42) Gardening tools in a “deepened” compost bin

Storage in a compost bin,

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(or in a customized cushion storage box).

In this tip:

  • Introduction
  • A)# Needed
  • B)# Measuring height
  • C)# Making and building up
  • D) Use
  • E) Shoe laces and hang up your garden hose
  • F) To be examined
  • G)# Plastic outdoor cushion storage box (customised)


I got this tip from my allotment garden colleague Jan Jansen.

Jan has digged a deep hole in the garden soil. He has put 2 big plastic flower pots (on top of each other) in this hole. The top flower pot has a big round hole in the bottom. A plastic compost bin has been put on the garden soil over these flower pots.

The compost bin with “digged in” plastic flowerpots is used for storage of gardening tools. Hoe, rake, spade, fork, broom, all fit in this tool storage.

In my allotment garden I made a simular storage. With some adaptions. There is 1 big plastic flower pot digged in the soil. This flower pot has a round hole in its bottom. There is a PVC drain tube (diameter 10 centimeters, 4 inch) in the soil under the flower pot. At the lower part of the compost bin there is electric conduit pipe, bent in a round form and fixed with tie wraps. This tube strengthens the lower part of the compost bin.


A)# Needed:

  • A big (plastic, round) compost bin, height about 80 to 100 centimeters (2.6 to 3.3 ft).
  • One big plastic flower pot, diameter and heigth about 35 centimeters (1 ft  2 inch).
  • Thin wall PVC drain tube (or rain gutter downpipe), 100 millimeters (4 inch) diameter, length about 90 centimeters (3 ft).
  • Iron wire, 2.5 millimeters (1/10 inch) diameter.
  • Piece of iron wire netting with mesh 1.25 or 2.5 centimeters (0.5 or 1 inch).
  • PVC end cap, fitting on the drain tube.
  • About 4 meters of PVC electrical conduit pipe, 5/8 inch diameter.
  • One electrical conduit coupler (or a piece of electrical conduit pipe of 3/4 inch).
  • Tie-wraps.
  • Shoe lace


B)# Measuring height

To determine the minimal length of the 4 inch diameter tube you can act as follows:

  1. Put the compost bin on the soil, with no lid on.
  2. Put the longest tool (hoe or rake) vertical in the compost bin. Measure how long the tool rises above the upper edge of the compost bin, for example 93 centimeters (3 ft  1 inch).
  3. Meaure the height of the big flower pot, for example 35 centimeters (1 ft 2 inch).
  4. Use these values to calculate the minimal length of the PVC drain tube. The minimal length of the 4 inch PVC tube is “length of rising above the upper edge”  –   “the height of the flower pot”. In this example  93 – 35 = 58 centimeters. (3 ft  1 inch   –  1 ft  2 inch  = 1 ft  11 inch).
  5. Use a longer PVC tube than the calculated minimal length; about 10 to 15 centimeters (4 to 6 inch) longer. So the longest tool fits well in the compost bin.


C)# Making and building up

Below a description with photos how to adapt and use the parts. And how to build up the storage tool.

C1) Making a round hole in the bottom of the flower pot.

Use a power jigsaw or compass saw to make a round hole in the bottom of the flower pot. Make the hole a little bit bigger than the outer diameter of the drain tube. Make the hole excentral (so not in the middle of the bottom). You can make the hole even closer to the edge than on the photos above. To have extra space for a spade or garden fork (next to the PVC tube).


C2) Adaptation of PVC drain tube

C2a) Sawing the correct length

You can use a PVC drain tube or rain gutter down pipe, diameter 100 millimeters (4 inch) and a thin wall of 1.8 millimeters, (9/128 inch).

Use a hack saw to make the PVC tube to the desired length. The tube I use is about 70 centimeters (2 ft 4 inch) long. The tube on the photo above has a “self made cap” at the left side; the lower part of a well fitting plastic flower pot has been put on the tube. Later on, the self made cap has been replaced by a “real” PVC cap.


C2b) Mounting end cap

When the groundwater is “high” in your garden soil, there will be water in the tube under the big flower pot. The wooden handles of rake, hoe and broom will be in the water. That’s not good. At this situation, you better glue a PVC cap at one end of the tube and put the tube with cap down in the garden soil. The cap prevents groundwater from entering the tube.

Is the ground water much deeper, you can put a “perforated cap” on the PVC tube. Condensed water in the tube can be drained through the perforated cap into the garden soil.

A PVC cap can be found on the internet, for example   here   .

Below a description of fixing a perforated cap to the tube.

  • Drill holes in the edge and the bottom of the end cap.
  • Put the end cap on the tube.
  • Drill small holes in the edge of the tube at 3 positions (where small wood screws are put in later).
  • Fasten the end cap to the end of the tube using 3 small wood screws.
  • (Remark about the 2 holes in the side of the tube on the photo above. When I had no end cap, there was thick iron wire through these holes and iron wire netting was on this wire. Now these (2) holes are unnecessary).


C2) Making a sieve of iron wire mesh

You can lay a thin disk of iron wire netting on the end cap. The stems of the tools rest on this wire netting disk and keep dry.

Below some photos and description of this iron netting disk.

Use garden gloves.

Fold the piece of metal wire netting to make a flat round disk. Put the iron netting disk in the PVC drain tube on the end cap.


C2d) Metal handle on top

You can use iron wire to make a handle on top of the drain tube; drill 2 holes, put iron wire through the holes and bend the wire. When needed, you can pull the drain tube out of the soil, by putting the teeth of a rake through the handle.


C3) Digging in flower pot and PVC drain tube

You can put the compost bin on the garden soil to make a print in the soil. Remove the bin and dig a round furrow at the print. Depth of the furrow about 15 centimeters (6 inch).

Instead of a round furrow, you can dig a round hole in the garden soil, depth 15 centimeters (6 inch). On the photos below there is a furrow of 15 centimeters (6 inch) deep.

Use a spade to dig a big hole in the garden soil. The flower pot fits in this hole.

  • Put the flower pot in the hole.
  • Use a manual earth drill to make a shallow hole in the soil at the position of the drain tube.
  • (Remove the flower pot).
  • Use the earth drill to make the hole deeper.
  • (Put the flower pot in the hole).
  • Put the PVC drain tube in the hole, with the end cap down.
  • The top of the drain tube is about 10 centimeters (4 inch) above the bottom of the flower pot.
  • Shove garden earth against the outer side of the flower pot.


C4 Mounting a hoop in the compost bin

You can fix a hoop (made of conduit pipe) to the lower edge of the compost bin. The hoop improves the stability of the compost bin. But I think that the compost bin is rigid without this hoop too.  But my bin has a hoop now, so on the photos too.

The hoop can be fixed to the compost bin with tie-wraps.

  • Measure the periphery of the compost bin (at the lower part).
  • Use a hack saw to make the conduit pipe at the right length.
  • Bend the conduit pipe in a round shape and fix a tube connector (or piece of 3/4 inch electrical conduit pipe).

  • Fix the hoop at 5 positions; 2 positions next to the side flap (side door).
  • Drill 2 small holes at each position; one hole above and one hole below the hoop.
  • Use tie-wraps to fix the hoop to the compost bin.


C5)  Putting down the compost bin on the garden soil.

  • Put the compost bin in the round furrow (or round hole) in the soil.

  • Put some bricks loosely against the side flap (side door) of the compost bin. These bricks hold back the garden earth, so you can remove and put back the side door.

  • Shove garden earth against the compost bin and against the “outer side of the bricks”.


D)# Use

  • The side door can be shifted to the left or to the right, or taken off.
  • The fork and spade fit in the flower pot next to the PVC drain tube.
  • The stems of the broom, rake and hoe are in the drain tube.
  • You can fix a shoe lace on top of the compost bin (see E)#  ) to hang the broom, hoe or rake on. So you can easily pick the broom, rake or hoe out of the bin; without this lace these 3 tools are deeper in the compost bin.
  • In the bin there is room for stepping boards, pieces of corrugated plate, flower pots, lids, tubes etcetera.
  • You can hang a garden hose over the black flower pot fixed to the top of the compost bin (see   E)#  ).


E)# Shoe laces and hang up your garden hose

E1) Shoe laces

You can fix the shoe laces as follows;

  • Use an awl to make 2 small holes in the top of the bin.
  • Put 1 end of the shoe lace through 1 hole (right side of the photo). Pull the lace further through this hole. Make 1 or 2 knots in this piece of lace. Pull the lace “back” untill the knots touch the top of the compost bin; the lace can not be pulled out further.
  • Put the other end of the lace through the other hole (left side of the photo). Put a loop and knot in the lace to fix.
  • Now the lace hangs “loose” in the bin. You can hang a broom, a rake or a hoe on this lace.


E2) Hang up your garden hose

You can make this “garden hose hang up tool” as follows;


  • Two equal (black) plastic flower pots, top diameter about 13 centimeters (5 inch).
  • Two round disks, sawn from a plastic cutting board( use a power jig saw or hand fret saw). Thickness about 4 millimeters (1/6 inch). Diameter is a little less than the diameter of the bottom of the flower pots. Drill a hole in the centre of the disks, diameter 4 millimeters (1/6 inch).
  • Mounting material; bolt, 2 rings, (butterfly) nut, all about 4 millimeters (1,6 inch).

In each flower pot, drill a small hole in the centre of the bottom (4 millimeters, 1/6 inch).

  • Pot both flower pots on each other.
  • Put the bolt with 1 ring through the hole in 1 disk.
  • Put this bolt (with disk) through the holes of both flower pots. Now one disk and the head of the bolt are at the inner side of the top flower pot.

  • The top side of my compost bin is “double-walled” for about 10 centimeters (4 inch).
  • Use an awl to make a small hole in the inner wall of the top edge of the compost bin.
  • Put the bolt (that protrudes the bottom of the lower flower pot) through this hole.
  • Grab the other disk and hold it “between the inner wall and outer wall”.
  • Put the hole in this disk over the bolt that sticks out (protrudes) “between the inner and outer wall”. 
  • Put a ring and a (butterfly) nut on this bolt. Turn the nut to fasten the whole to the compost bin.
  • When fastened, you can use the hose hang up tool.
  • Using 2 flower pots and 2 disks forms a very sturdy construction.


F)# To be examined later

  • Make a floor of bricks in the compost bin (round the flower pot). The garden tools and garden things are on these bricks and stay dry.
  • Use a compost bin without a hoop of conduit pipe.


G)# Plastic outdoor cushion storage box (customized)

An allotment colleague who has stopped gardening gave me a “plastic cushion storage box”. I have customized the box. Now, garden tools with a long stem (rake, hoe, garden cultivator) fit well “in” the box.

G1) Description:

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The storage box is about 130 centimeters (4 ft   3 inch) wide. At one side there is an extra roof.


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In this box, the iron parts of a rake, a hoe and a cultivator rest on a round wooden lath near 1 short wall of the box.

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At the other short wall of the box, the stems of the tools stick out. This point is somewhat lower than the (above described) round wooden lath. So the stems “slant” a little.

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There is a small roof over the stems outside the box. This keeps the tools dry. Condensed water does not “flow” into the box because the stems slant a little down (when the box is on a level surface).  Or put the box a little slanting on the garden soil.


G2) Making

G2a) Fastening a round wooden lath:

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  • Saw a round lath from a wooden (broom) stem.
  • Fasten this lath near one short side wall.
  • Fix each end of this lath with a wood screw through a long side wall, as high as possible.
  • You can use these “combi caps” (washers with end caps) 0ver the heads of the screws.

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  • On this photo you see such a “combi cap” (washer with end cap) on corrugated plate.
  • Procedure: put screw through the combi cap, turn screw in wood, close cap.


G2b) Making round holes:

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  • At the other short side wall, make round holes where the tool stems fit in. You can use a “hole saw” on a drilling machine.
  • You can make these holes in the “handle” of the side wall or next to or under this “handle”.

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Photos of a “hole saw”. Use a round “hole saw” of the right diameter to make the holes.


G2c) Making a “table” for the roof:

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Make a “slanting” table. On this table, the roof is fastened later. Near the cushion box, this table is highest. This table has been made out of 1 piece of timber floorboard, 2 pieces of broad wooden laths (each with a slanting end) and 1 piece of broad wooden lath.

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  • Make 2 broad laths, each with one slanting end:
    • Saw one end of a broad wooden lath (22 x 48 mm (1 x 2 inch) diameter) slanting.
    • To do this, you can clamp a broad wooden lath in a mitre box (using 2 small pieces of wood) as shown on the photo above. And saw straight in the slot of the mitre box.
    • Saw 25 centimeters (10 inch) further straight in the broad lath.
    • You have 1 piece of broad lath with a straight and a slanting end.
    • Make 2 pieces of these broad laths.

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  • Saw one piece of timber floorboard, about 23 centimeters (9 inch) long.
  • This piece of board is fixed later on the slanting ends of the broad laths.
  • You can draw the slanting end of a broad wooden lath on the floorboard (this is a rectangle). Mark 2 points in this rectangle;
    • Each point at about 1.2 centimeters (0.5 inch) distance from a short end of the rectangle.
    • And in the middle between 2 long ends of the rectangle.
  • Drill holes in the floorboard at the marked points and put wood screws in these holes.

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  • Drill small holes in the slanting ends of the broad wooden laths at the screw positions;
    • Draw a straight pencil line in the middle of a slanting end,
    • Hold the piece of floorboard against the slanting end of a broad wooden lath at the right position (see photo below). Push the points of the screws (of the floorboard) in the slanting end. This makes marks in the slanting end.
    • Drill small holes on the pencil line at the marks.
    • Execute the steps above at 2 wooden laths with a slanting end.

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  • Screw the timber floorboard at the slanting sides of 2 pieces of broad wooden laths.
  • Don’t tighten these screws yet.

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  • Saw an extra piece of broad lath that fits well between the 2 broad wooden laths.
  • Fasten this extra lath between the 2 broad wooden laths;
    • Drill 2 more holes in the timber floorboards and put wood screws in these holes.
    • Fasten the extra lath with these 2 wood crews.
  • You end up with a “slanting table”.

Later on, when fastening the slanting table to the cushion storage box, wood screws are driven in this extra lath. The timber floorboard is too narrow for this; when driving in the wood screws, the timber floorboard probably will cleave.

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(This photo shows how 3 broad laths are fastened to the timber floorboard with 6 wood screws. And the photo shows that the slanting table is higher near the side of the cushion box)


G2d) Making fastening laths:

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  • Saw 3 narrow wooden laths, diameter about 30 x 24 millimeters (1.2 x 1 inch).
  • These laths have the same length as the timber floorboard.
  • Drill holes in these laths. Distance between the 2 outer holes of each lath is equal to the (heart to heart) distance between the 2 broad laths of the slanting table.
  • In 1 lath, drill one extra hole, about middle betweeen the 2 outer holes.
  • Put wood screws in all holes.


G2e) Fastening the slanting table to the cushion box:

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  • Fasten the slanting table to the cushion storage box using laths and wood screws. Use the sharp point of each wood screw to make a hole in the side wall of the cushion box.
  • (on the photo above, 2 more screws must be put in the top lath).
  • During fastening, push the slanting table against the side wall of the cushion box.


G2f) Fastening roof:

You can use a piece of (transparent) corrugated plate to make a roof.

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  • Saw out a well fitting piece of corrugated plate.
  • The corrugated plate is longer than the part of the stems (of rake, hoe) that stick out of the storage box and wider than the slanting table.
  • Fasten the corrugated plate to the slanting table using wood screws and “combi caps” (washers with end caps).
  • During fastening the corrugated plate, push the plate against the side wall of the cushion box.

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  • Use a piece of nylon cord.
  • Make a loop and a knot in the nylon cord.

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  • Bend the loose end of the corrugated plate curved.
  • Put the nylon cord around the bent corrugated plate.
  • Tighten the nylon cord and put a knot or tie in it.
  • This nylon cord keeps the end of the corrugated plate bent; the bent plate does not wiggle in the wind so easily.


Instead of corrugated plate you can saw a roof from a big plastic storage box or from a big plastic lid. I’m still looking for such a box or lid.


G2g): Lid reinforcement and opening up the lid:

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  • My cushion storage box has a lid reinforcement:
    • One wooden board has been fastened to another wooden board at right angles.
    • On 1 wooden board 3 laths have been fastened.
    • The whole (2 boards and 3 laths) has been fastened to the lid of the box with 2 screws (2 bolts and 2 nuts).
  • This construction makes the storage box firm and the lid does not sag. A person with a “normal weight” can sit on the box without distorting the box.


  • At one wooden board of the lid reinforcement, a screw eye has been put in.
  • And at the upper narrow fixing lath of the slanting table, there is an “opened” wood screw put in.
  • There is a nylon cord with a knot and a loop between these screw eyes. This makes the lid opening up a short distance (and not falling over).


G2h): How many garden tools fit in the box:

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  • These big objects all fit in my customized cushion box. All garden tools have a “normal” length. The objects:
    • 2 garden forks,
    • 2 spades,
    • 1 Dutch hoe,
    • 1 rake,
    • 1 garden cultivator (3 tooth cultivator),
    • 2 watering cans,
    • 1 half pack of hay,
    • bamboo sticks, length  120 centimeters (4 ft).

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  • Put “short and small” objects in the (watering cans, hay).
  • Then put the spades and garden forks in the cushion box, each one with its handle on the round wooden laths.
  • Finally put the long bamboo sticks in the box.

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  • Next step is putting each tool with a long stem in the box;
    • Put the stem in the hole of the side wall.
    • Put the “iron part” of the tool on the round wooden lath.

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  • All tools and objects are in the box.
  • You can close the lid;
    • Check if the lid reinforcement lath “fits” between the stems,
    • When needed, shift the stems a little forward or back.
    • Check if the lid can close now.

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  • Close the cushion storage box.
  • Put a short bamboo stick under the lid at the left and right front corner to make an air opening. So the inside of the box can dry up. And/or the inside of the box stays dry.
  • Put a heavy object (paving stone) on the left and right front corner of the lid. This prevents the lid from blowing open at heavy wind.


G2i) Not original

Having stems of long garden tools sticking through the side wall of a tool box is not original. I discovered the next tool storage box in our allotment garden:

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A self made wooden tool box with holes in one side wall. The stems of long garden tools protrude obliquely outwards through the holes. I think that garden tools will not stay dry in this box.


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