Learn how to make a compost bin using only chicken wire, a wooden stake and some zip ties to get your garden ready for spring!
Composting for Spring/Summer Gardens
According to Punxsutawney Phil we are due for an early spring so that means it's time to start tilling the soil and removing all the dead winter veggies to make room for spring and summer crops! Last summer we tried to grow cherry tomatoes but they were small and mostly eaten by bugs or squirrels or birds. We were pretty disappointed and wondered why they didn't thrive in the perfect temperature/conditions.
Then my mother-in-law came over in the fall with a huge bag of cherry tomatoes and shared how she was still growing them all the way into late fall! The most lucious, flavorful cherry tomatoes you've ever tasted too. I asked what her secret was--to teach me her magical tomato growing ways. Her tip? Compost! They had mixed up a batch of compost the spring before and mixed it in with the soil when planting their tomato plants and they really took over the whole garden and lasted until September/October! We are located in South Carolina so the climate turns cooler later but still--that's a great stretch. So we knew we had to make our own compost bin after hearing about the Jack and the Beanstalk Tomatoes.
How to Make a Compost Bin Using Chicken Wire
Step 1: Measure out Chicken Wire and Fold Into a Cylinder
We used 1in chicken wire and you can use a roll that is 36in or 48in in height--they come in various sizes. We used the 36in H roll. The key is, the taller and more cylindrical the bin, the less likely animals and other varmits can get in and out of it. The hexagonal openings in the chicken wire allow for airflow with helps the compost decompose faster and stay healthy.
Step 2: Secure the Ends with Zipties to the Garden Stake
Once you have your cylinder molded and chicken wire cut, secure the wire to a garden stake or u-post that is firmly planted into the ground with zipties. We used 3 zipties, one for the top, middle and bottom.
Step 3: Use Stakes to Anchor Compost Bin Into the Ground
Lastly, we used these small little yellow anchors we found to secure the bottom of the compost bin firmly to the ground to help prevent animals from digging it up from the bottom. After the bin becomes full and heavy this won't be too much of an issue but you don't want it to blow away at first.
We've had our compost bin for about a month now and love it! We waste much less food and don't feel bad if certain fruits and veggies expire since we can recycle them in the bin. It's important to note that this bin is not 100% predator proof and we've had some animals trying to hop inside but we just reshape it and keep adding to it.
Here are some beginner tips that we've learned so far on our compost journey:
No egg shells-- a lot of people use egg shells but we've found that the egg yolk inside can attract varmits (because it's still a protein like meat) and so we don't throw those in
Always add wet leaves on top when adding new material to keep the been moist
Once a month turn it with a pitchfork to generate airflow through the bin and boost decomposition
Ideal scraps for the bin: coffee grounds, any green waste--fruit or vegetable waste, if you chop them before tossing they decompose faster
Avoid whole bulbs like onions, garlics, because they can grow roots and start growing into new plants!
Chicken manure is fine but never household pet feces
Citrus and berries are great
Place your bin in a far corner of your yard, not near your house, because it will inevitably attract mice or other small varmits
Needs air--so chicken wire is great for ventilation
Happy Composting, friends!