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Composting is a great way to reduce your environmental footprint and enrich your soil, and autumn is the perfect time to start. Falling leaves, spent garden plants, and grass clippings all provide abundant materials that can be transformed into nutrient-rich compost for your garden. When you start making your own, it’s important to have somewhere it can build up. Compost bins are widely available but it’s also really easy and cost-effective to make your own. Then you can turn any old kitchen and garden waste into black gold: rich, crumbly compost that’s perfect for your plant life.

Clear an area

The first thing you’ll need to do is choose a location for your compost bin. Once you have made your decision, it’s time to clear the area. You might find that you need to level the ground a bit using a spade or rake before you get started. Keep in mind that the bin needs to be stood on bare soil as opposed to decking or paving. If you’re worried about rats getting in, you can put down a base of chicken wire. All you need to build your bin is four wooden pallets, six wooden posts, a sledgehammer, a bow saw and some strong wire rope.

Installing the back edge

Take your first pallet and stand it where you want the back edge of your compost bin to go. Position it so that it’s standing on one of its longer sides, with the slats facing inward. Then push a wooden post between the two layers of the pallet at either end. In order to fix it in place, push the stakes into the ground as much as you can, by hand first. Then drive them deeper into the soil using a sledgehammer. You want to be aiming for around 20-30cm deep so that they’re nice and secure.

Installing the sides

Now that you’ve got your back edge installed, you can do the same for the sides. Position a pallet at either end, stood at a right angle. Make sure that the corners of the sides are butted up really tightly against the back edge. You want as little of a gap as possible to make sure that compost doesn’t spill through when you eventually fill it up. Once you’re happy, secure the sides in place using stakes at either end. To keep the entire structure stable, wire the pallets together in the corners where they’re joined.

Final steps

For a neater look, use a bow saw to trim the tops of your stakes so that they’re in line with the pallets. Rather than fixing it to the ground, simply attach the last pallet to the front with wire rope. That way, it acts as a gate that’s easier to remove when you want to access your compost bin. Now that you have your bin built, you can start filling it with garden and kitchen waste to build up your supply of compost. If you have the space and the materials, building two compost bins allows you to always have one on the go while you’re filling the other.

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