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

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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 paving stones around it”. Below a description.

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A)# One compost container

The compost container is a square hole in your garden, about 95 cm (3 ft) per side and 10 to 12 inch (25 – 30 centimeters) deep.

At each side, there are (3) square paving stones of 12 inch (30 cm) vertically next to each other. Place the paving stones somewhat sloping,  \___/  so you can stand on the stones without having them fallen over. If you want more compost volume, make a bigger container, with more stones. Or make the hole deeper in the centre of the container. Remove extra garden earth there.

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

Put garden soil in the openings between the vegetable waste and the paving stones. This is to prevent 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

When you have more room, you can make two identical compost containers next to each other.

Fill only one compost container with fresh plant material. When the fresh-container is full, scoop the half composted plant material into the other container, the compost container. Below a description with 3 photos. On each photo the rear container is the fresh-container. The front container is the compost container.

  • Scoop the upper layer of the fresh-container. It is mostly fresh plant material.
  • Lay this fresh plant material next to the containers on the garden soil or on a piece of plastic foil.

  • Use a garden fork or spade to scoop the half composted plant material from the fresh-container into the compost container.
  • During scooping, lay heavy or big plant material (branches and big parts) next to the compost containers.
  • Go on scooping until the fresh-container is empty (or the compost container is full).

  • Then scoop fresh and heavy plant material (from the garden soil or plastic foil) back into the fresh-container.
  • This fresh-container can be filled with more fresh plant material again.
  • In the compost container, composting process continues.

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This compost container has many advantages:  cheap, durable materials, easy access for filling and emptying,  good moisture conditions (rain, composting material underneath surface of the garden), good access for earthworms.

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C)# Handy building style

Below there is a step by step description how to make a compost container of stepping stones with least effort.

And how to make a double container.

composthoop maken 1

You better not start digging a big wide hole in the garden soil. After digging it is hard to put the paving stones slanting against the sides of the hole. The hole can be too wide or too long. Then you have to put garden earth against the sides again.

When you want to divide the container ( you want 2 containers next to each other), you have to make a row of paving stones in the middle of the hole. These stones will topple easily. The stones need extra support against toppling.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

You can put extra garden earth against the middle row of stones, as shown on the photo above. These compost containers on the 2 photos above are in the garden of a collegue allotment gardner.

Collegue, thanks for the photos.

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Below the easy building method.

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First, determine the exact place where to make the container. For example the corner of the garden. The container will get 3 rows of 3 paving stones each:

  1. At the left side near the iron wire,
  2. At the back, near the storage of black plastic foil and iron netting (storage of the neighbour gardner),
  3. At the right next to the green plants.

At the front there will be no paving stones. So you can easily rake plant material in the container.

All paving stones will be placed slanting, top to outside. This prevents the stones from toppling when the container is empty.

Remove the plants on the garden (with spade or hoe and rake).

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First row will be near the iron wire. Mark the row of stones in the garden soil.

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Measure the size of the stones using the spade. Then you know how deep the trench must be digged.

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Dig a narrow trench in the garden soil. The outer side of the trench is slanting. So all paving stones can be put slanting in the trench. To form a container \______/ with this shape. This prevents the stones from toppling when the container is empty.

Dig a few inches more then the length of the (3) paving stones in a row. Put the digged earth next to the trench, in the middle of the container.

Dig until the right depth.

composthoop maken 7

You can use a garden scoop to flatten the bottom of the trench.

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Put the stones (slanting) in the trench. A few millimeters space between the stones acts as a passage for earthworms.

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Strew some garden earth (at the inner side) against the stones.

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Press on the garden earth using a wooden block or hammer.

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When needed, press on the garden earth behind the stones to have them more steep.

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First row of stones have been put in the garden soil. Slanting outside.

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Dig another trench crossways the first row. Near the storage of plastic and iron netting. The outer side of the trench is slanting.

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Put paving stones slanting in the trench. Again with a few millimeters space between the stones. Strew some garden earth and press on it.

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Measure the width of the container. The open front side of the container must get about the same size.

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Dig another trench. The outer side of the trench is slanting.

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Put paving stones slanting in this trench. Again with a few millimeters space between the stones. Strew some garden earth and press on it.

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  • Scoop garden earth out of the container until a depth of about 10 to 12 inch (25 to 30 cm). Spread the earth over the garden or make a small heap.
  • In each corner where the stones meet, there is an open space (V-groove). Strew some garden earth there and press on it.

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Attention: next 3 photos are side view photos of the container.

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  • Make the soil sloping at the open side of the container. On this photo at the left side. This prevents garden earth from crumbling away and falling in the compost.

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  • Or put some paving stones there against crumbling of garden earth. On this photo at the left side.

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  • You can “dig an extra hole” in the bottom of the container. To have more compost volume.

The container is ready for use now.

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C1) More containers next to each other

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

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  • Lay one row of stepping stones (or half size stones) on the garden soil, next to the container. Lay them flat on the garden soil,
  • Make the new container against these stones,
  • Dig a slanting trench next to the flat stones,
  • Put (3) stones slanting in this trench. Strew some garden earth and press,
  • These stones form the first wall of the next container,
  • Dig 2 trenches at 2 other sides and put paving stones slanting in these trenches,
  • Scoop garden earth out of the container until a depth of about 10 to 12 inch (25 to 30 cm).
  • Etcetera.

The horizontal stones between the compost containers are lying on firm garden soil. You can stand on them during scooping plant material from one container to the other one. The side stones of the containers will not topple so easily.

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C2) Remarks

composthoop maken 8a

Yes, you can use stones like this for the compost container. Put the stone in the trench with the missing part down.

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When you want to split a big (wide) container, you can put a vertical wall of stepping stones in it. To prevent toppling, you can put the last stone (right side of photo) between 2 stones. Or put an iron bar at each side of the stone.

Or put extra garden earth at both sides of the vertical stones. My collegue gardener does that (see photos at the beginning of this chapter).

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C3) Two compost containers next to each other. Paving stones in between

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A colleague allotment gardner has made these compost containers next to each other. With paving stones between them.

Colleague, thanks.

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D)# Compost container, earthworms working hard

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Compost container in the backyard garden.

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

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

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

composthoop beton 1

composthoop beton 2

composthoop beton 4 composthoop beton 13 composthoop beton 14 composthoop beton 15

At all these compost containers, the plant material is below the garden surface. So compost will not dry out so easily. Earthworms can easily crawl from the surrounding garden earth into the compost.

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

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

composthoop anders 1

This container is very high and vegetable waste is too dry. Meanwhile this compost container has been “dismantled” and the organic material has been put in the garden soil.

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composthoop anders 3

composthoop anders 4

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

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composthoop anders 2

Good construction, expensive materials, risk of rotting wood.

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composthoop beton 3a

Compost container made of 10 paving stones, size 60 x 40 cm (24 x 16 inch). The stones are placed “upright”. The wooden frame prevents stones from toppling.

This is a bad construction, so I added a red cross to the photo. Do not copy. The compost container is far too deep. Stepping or falling into this container causes injuries. A child can fall into the container and not be able to climb out anymore.

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composthoop beton 16

This one has also been made of stones with a size of 60 x 40 cm (24 x 16 inch). The stones are placed “upright”. The wooden poles and blocks prevent stones from toppling. The compost material is above garden level, so it can easily dry out. Frequently watering of compost material is necessary. That’s why a blue watering bucket is present.

This container is a new design with room for improvement.

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G)# Proposal good compost container (stone size 60 x 40 cm (24 x 16 inch))

This is a proposal for a better construction of 2 compost containers made of these big stones. I did not build them (yet).

comp stones 1

Drawing of 1 stone.

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comp stones 2

The stones are placed “landscape”, that means not upright. All stones are slanting outside in the garden soil.

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comp stones 3Sectional drawing of 2 compost containers next to each other. All stones are at least 4 inch in the garden soil. There is extra garden earth against the stones. To prevent toppling.

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