I’ll admit it – my husband is more of a gardener than I am! I love to cook with the produce, but he definitely has the green thumb in the family!

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A reader wrote and asked if I’d show the back yard (before garden beds).


And after.

So where’s the compost bin?

Down in the corner of our property, by the garden beds. And they only cost around $5 to build!

Seriously, $5?
For under $5 my husband built a 3 bin compost system, measuring 8 x 4. The $5 cost was for buying screws.

Why 8 x 4?
Because that’s the size of the FREE pallets that he picked up from the local Grange (or garden center)! He kept it in those dimensions to make the least number of modifications. It wasn’t the ideal size that he had in mind, but because of the time restraint that Paul was under, he made it work!

Did you know that the Grange Co-Op will give you these pallets for FREE? Sometimes they are stacked “20” high!

Why a 3 bin system?
This 3-bin system was built in less than 3 hours with a few modifications to the existing pallets, but not much!

~ It’s the easiest way to turn over a compost pile
~ You turn the compost twice
~ By the time it gets to the “third” bin – it’s the final compost ready for the garden

Why compost?
~ Compost adds nutrients back into the soil, but not as much as some people think
~ It’s a great way to break the soil up
~ You can use partially decomposed compost as a weed barrier
~ Compost helps your soil retain water

A Balanced Diet – 4:1
Paul follows the 4:1 rule. One (greens) to four (browns) is how we feed our compost pile!

Greens: grass clippings, yard debris.

Browns: kitchen scraps (veggie and fruit peelings), coffee grounds, leaves and straw.

For carbon-rich ingredients you can even add shredded newspaper or small amounts of ash from your wood stove! And even Abby’s hamster droppings go into the pile! We also use straw around our compost bin, which provides another layer of protection from wind and cold!

In the winter
This winter we’ll layer our pile. We alternate brown to green – the layers help insulate the pile, trapping heat and gases inside. You want to cause as little disturbance as possible to the layers of insulation.

In the spring
When the spring comes, we’ll start turning the pile. During warm spells we’ll even “water” the pile, leaving it damp, but not soaking. The warmer temperatures keep the microbes well supplied with oxygen.

What about tools?
Did you know that almost all of our garden tools were purchased at yard sales? Over the years we’ve picked them up at these sorts of sales, rarely paying more than $2 a tool!

We live in town on a city lot, and we’ve prioritized growing a garden. And for the Reluctant Entertainer, I can guarantee that you and your guests will so enjoy eating your organic produce!

So, after reading this post, are you inspired to compost?

If you can’t find free pallets, you can buy them online, here.