1) Simple compost container made of paving stones

In this tip:

  • A)# One compost container
  • B)# Two containers next to each other
  • C)# Handy building style
  • D)# Compost container, earthworms working hard
  • E)# Compost containers in our allotment garden, similar design
  • F)# Compost container in our allotment garden, different design

Many gardeners “make” their own compost from garden waste and kitchen waste. To do this, all kinds of compost bins are for sale.

You can make compost in a simple compost container made from a “hole in the ground with square concrete pavers around it”.

Below a description.

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A)# One compost container

The compost container is a square hole in the soil, about 95 cm (3 ft) per side and 25 centimeters (10 inch) deep.

At each side, there are square concrete paving slabs (“pavers”) of 12 inch (30 cm) somewhat sloping  \___/  . This prevent the pavers from toppling easily.

If you want more compost volume, make a bigger container, with more pavers. Or make a deep hole in the center of the container (remove earth).

On the internet you can find what materials can be put in the compost container.

Extra garden soil in the openings between the vegetable waste and the pavers prevents mice from making a nest in the container.

At chapter C)# a step by step description of making this type of compost container.

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B)# Two containers next to each other

With more room, you can make 2 compost containers next to each other.

Always fill the same compost container with fresh plant material. When the fresh-container is full, transfer the material as shown on the 3 photos below. On each photo the rear container is the fresh-container. The front container is the compost container.

  • Scoop off the top layer of the fresh-container (fresh plant material). Lay this material next to the containers on the garden soil (on plastic foil). Or scoop the material in a big flower pot.
  • Scoop half digested plant material from the fresh-container into the compost container. Meanwhile lay branches and big parts next to the containers.
  • Continue until the fresh-container is empty (or the compost container is full).
  • Scoop fresh and heavy plant material back into the fresh-container.
  • From now on the fresh-container can be filled with fresh plant material again.
  • In the compost container, composting process continues.

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This compost container has many advantages:

  • cheap and easy to make,
  • made of durable materials (concrete stones),
  • easy access for filling and emptying,
  • the material in the container does not dry due to rain and “below ground level”,
  • good access for earthworms.

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C)# Handy building style

Below there is a step by step description how to make such a compost container.

You can first dig a big hole in the garden and then put all pavers at the sides. But this is not handy.

It is much easier to put the pavers in the soil first and then dig the big hole in the soil. Below a step by step description.

This container gets 3 pavers at each sides. All paving stones will be placed slanting, top to outside. This prevents the pavers from toppling when the container is empty.

One side of the container is very slanting, so you can rake or shove plant material from the garden into the compost container.

  • Determine the exact place where to make the container.
  • Remove the plants from the garden soil (with spade or hoe and rake).
  • Mark the position of the first row of pavers;
  • Push the edge of a stones 3 times next to each other in the soil.
    • Or make a line (length about 1 meter, 3 ft  4 inch) in the soil.
  • Dig a narrow trench in the garden soil. Put the dug out garden earth “in the middle of the compost container”
  • Make the trench a few inches longer than the length of the marked length.
  • Use a spade to make the outer side of the trench slanting outward.
  • Flatten and deepen the bottom of the trench.
  • Put 3 pavers (slanting outward) in the trench.

  • Strew some garden earth against the stones.
  • Press on the garden earth (using a wooden block or hammer).

  • When needed, press on the garden earth behind the stones to have them more steep.
  • First row of pavers have been put down. They are slanting outside.
  • Dig the next trench (crossways the first row).

  • Put 3 paving stones slanting in the trench.
  • Strew garden earth against the pavers and press on the earth.

  • Dig the next trench (crossways the second row).
  • Put paving stones slanting in the trench.
  • Strew garden earth against the pavers and press on the earth.
  • Scoop garden earth out of the container until a depth of about 10 inch (25 centimeter). Spread the earth over the garden or make a heap.

Attention: next photos are side view photos.

  • Make the soil sloping at the fourth side of the container (yellow arrow on left photo). This prevents garden earth from crumbling away.
  • Or put paving stones there (very sloping) (red arrow on right photo).
  • At both situations you can easily rake plant material from the garden soil into the compost container.
  • You can “dig a deep hole” in the bottom of the container. To have more volume for compost or fresh plant material.

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(you can make all 4 sides equal steep sloping as at this old design)

The container is ready for use now.

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C1) Two (or more) containers next to each other

When you want an extra container next to this one, you can act as follows:

  • Lay pavers (or half size pavers) flat on the garden soil, next to the container.
  • Dig a trench in the soil (next to the “flat pavers”).
  • Put pavers slanting in the trench.
  • Strew garden earth against the stones and press on it.
  • This row forms the left side of the second compost container.
  • Finish the second container. Make the second container equal to the first one (as described above).

A colleague allotment gardner has made these compost containers next to each other. The flat paving stones between the containers lie firmly on the soil. You can stand on them during scooping and transferring compost.

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C2) Remarks

You can use pavers like this for the compost container. Put the stone in the trench with the missing part down.

When you don’t want to have flat pavers, you can put a vertical wall of paving stones in a big container. Put 1 paver between 2 pavers (right side of the photo). Put iron bars in the soil next to the other pavers and put garden earth against both sides.

When you have many pavers, you can make the vertical middle wall using 2 rows of slanting pavers (/\).

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D)# Compost container, earthworms working hard

Compost container in the backyard garden.

Lift some material in the container and the earthworms are there.

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Remark 1 : Transparent plate on top of the fresh container

An allotment colleague has put a transparent plastic plate on top of his fresh container. This makes the temperature in the material higher and accelerates the digestion.

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Remark 2: Manure storage in an empty container

mestopslag 1

You can use an empty compost container for storage of farmyard manure. You can put a roof over it against washing out by rain.

mestopslag 2

You can make a roof by putting wooden laths under and over corrugated plates. Fasten the laths using tie wraps through holes in the laths.

mestopslag 1

Put a brick or tile on top of the roof against blowing away.

The corrugated plates can get wobbling or curved due to high temperature. And can get brittle by sun (UV) light. After a few years you have to make a new roof of corrugated plates.

mestopslag 3

Or (when you have one) put a transparent dome over the container. Put (half) stones on the sides of the dome against blowing away.

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E)# Compost containers in our allotment garden, (about) the similar design

In our allotment garden, some colleagues have made the same design compost container. See photos below.

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F)# Compost containers in our allotment garden, different design

Some colleagues have made a different designs of a compost container. See photos below. I added my comments to the photos.

Side walls are made of wood. The wood is rotting already.

Good construction, expensive materials, risk of rotting wood.

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