As you all know, I love to garden. I don’t consider myself a master gardener by any means, but I do try my hardest and everyday I learn something new. One thing that I know that is the best thing for your garden, whether its a vegetable garden or a flower garden, is compost. I have had a compost bin for years, and I even wrote about how to compost back in 2014, and the importance of gourmet dirt. I’m happy to say that I have grown out of my tumbling composter, and today I’m going to share how to build a compost station using wood pallets.
First, I want to talk about the importance of composting and how you, too, can have a compost area whether you build one like mine, or start by having one that tumbles.
Adding gourmet dirt, as I like to call it, to garden soil increases its water-holding capacity, invigorates the soil food web and provides a buffet of plant nutrients. Compost also contains substances that enhance plant’s ability to respond to challenges from insects and diseases. It’s luscious ingredients help plants thrive and grow into strong, healthy plants. This is the name of the game. We all like to eat well; even plants. Here is the potting mix I make, using my own compost!
What do you add to a compost? Here are the GOOD compost ingredients:
- Dried leaves, hay and other dead plant material.
- Fruit and vegetable trimmings.
- Herbicide-free grass clippings and herbicide-free weeds. (Younger weeds break down easier and quicker)
- Manure from horses, cattle, goats, poultry and rabbits.
- Paper or cardboard torn into strips or hand-sized pieces. Shredded newspaper. Paper towels and napkins. Even brown paper bags are good.
- Coffee grounds and used coffee filters.
- Expired spices.
- Ash from your fireplace, fire pit and/or grill.
- Wine and Beer. This is true. If your wine has gone vinegary (that never happens around here) and if your beer has gone flat (nor does this), then pour them right over your compost. For real.
And for the things NOT to add to compost:
- Meat scraps such as bones, blood, fish and animal fats.
- Very fatty-sugary or salty foods.
- Chips or sawdust from treated wood.
- Clippings from herbicide treated lawns.
- Manure from dogs, cats, and obviously people. No good.
- Bread products. Because this is just setting the table and inviting pests to come and eat.
- Cooking oils. Smells like food and will attract little critters and mites.
- Diseased or distressed plants.
- Heavily coated or printed paper such as magazines, catalogs.
- Dairy products. Nope, not even them.
- Rice. Cooked rice can be a breeding ground for bad bacteria and raw rice attracts varmints.
- Weeds such as dandelions and plants such as ivy or any other vines. They will only thrive in a compost and will grow. You don’t want that.
When is the compost ready? Well, this depends on the size of your compost station, and can take anywhere from 3 months to a couple years. It’s ready when it resembles dark brown dirt and the ingredients that you added no longer resemble what they were. The key is to keep it aerated, giving the compost the oxygen it needs to break down. So if you have a tumbling composter, I suggest tumbling it a few times every 3 days. If you have a large composting station like I have and am going to show you how to build, you’ll need to turn it with a pitch fork, bringing the bottom up to the top, at least once a week. Also, a good tip is compost needs to cook. Heat is good, so having your compost station in full to partial sun is key.
Let’s get down to business; how to build a compost station out of wood pallets. This project is on the easy side, and will take less than an hour to build once you have all of your materials in place. What you’ll need:
- Wood pallets. You’ll need at least 3, but it depends on how many compartments you’ll want to have. I have 3 compartments, and I used 7 pallets.
- 1 roll of chicken wire. This will contain the compost inside the pallets.
- Staple gun
- Screw gun
- Tin snips or needle nose pliers.
Level the ground where you want your compost station to be, then set up 3 pallets in a U shape. If you want to have more than one compartment, just add a back and another side, sharing one side.
At each top corner, screw in an L bracket to secure the pallets in place. Screw brackets halfway down the corners also. Once you have the pallets secured, staple on the chicken wire from top to bottom, cutting off excess with tin snips or needle nose pliers.
If you choose to add doors to your station like I did, just cut another pallet in half. However, I will most likely be taking my doors off so the compost will receive the most sun possible, referring back to the “cooking” process.
That’s it. It’s that simple. I can’t stress enough how important compost is to your gardens. Composting is for beginners and masters alike. It’s easy and it’s rewarding. So, why not?!