My mother wanted me to build her a composter. Being my mother, I pretty much had to do it. Being my mom, she also knew she would seal the deal by saying “You can make a video How to Make a Compost Bin Out of Pallets for your blog while you are at it…” Did I mention I love my mom? Anyway, even if she just asked for one, and not wanted one built – I still would have built it as materials are cheap but commercial available composters are not. I have even seen some in the $500.00 range. Personally, I think this is CRAZY as you can buy a truck load of compost from a garden store for under $30.00.
I had instinctively known I was going to build her composter out of pallets, as I have lots of pallets, and the idea is that it is going to rot anyway so why buy expensive materials. What I did not know was how many other people have already invented my contraption.
There were many sites with instructions on how to build a compost bin out of pallet wood. This is great because I know this works, and that I can learn from other people. I ended up going the simplest route (strange huh).
Building the Compost Bin
The first step was to take a pallet and place it on the ground to keep the compost off the dirt. While this makes it impossible for worms to migrate up into the pile, it makes it harder for mice from burrowing into the pile to make nest. If it was at my house I would have gone on the worm side and had a rat killing every year, I figured mom had better things to do with her time.
With the pallet base on the ground, I took three other pallets and laid them on their sides. One at the back, and one on each side of the base. I took some nylon rope and simply tied them all together (I also put in a few nails where I could). Some people screw in brackets to hold the pallets together, others use wire coat hangers, and the more adventurous disassemble the pallets and build from the ground up. The possibilities are limited only by your plan, resources and imagination.
Once the bin was finished, I took 3 more pallets and made a second bin. I laid down a pallet next to the bin and tied it in place; I tied a pallet to the rear, and finished with one more pallet on the side. If I had three more pallets I would have repeated the process for a third bin.
Using the Composter
The idea is that you pile your compost material into the first bin, and turn it a couple times a year with a pitchfork. Then, the next year you fork it into the second bin for a complete mixing. You add new material to the original bin, and use the material from the second. With a three bin system you will have perfect compost after 3 years, but I figure between now and then I will probably find 3 more pallets.