What's a triple compost bin, and why should you need one? Good question.
Most people don't even have ONE compost bin. That's according to a National Waste and Recycling Survey that found that 72% of Americans do not compost.
With 36 million tons of food waste produced each year, according to the EPA, in addition to yard waste generated from gardening, mowing and trimming plants and trees, there is a lot of organic material being sent to landfills that could be turned into valuable, nutrient-rich fertilizer and garden amendments through composting, instead.
If you'd like to reduce your waste stream while creating FREE fertilizer for your yard and garden, setting up a triple compost bin rather than one compost bin might be the easiest solution. Why?
A triple compost bin reduces the weight in your composting pile, which is important when you need to turn over the materials. Whether you use a standing bin or a rotating barrel or drum, wet materials and pounds of food, cardboard and garden scraps really do add up. The three-bin system also allows you to continue to compost throughout the year, while also having compost readily available for when you need it in the garden. How?
In a three-bin system, the first section of the compost bin is for fresh scraps. This is when the composting just begins to start. As the food and yard waste start to break down, compost begins to form. But if you keep adding new waste on top of the compost that's in development, it takes longer to get quality compost that you need to sprout spring seeds, fertilize a summer garden, plant fall bulbs or add a layer of mulch to a dormant winter garden.
With a triple compost bin, fresh waste is kept in one section. As the compost begins to form, the product can be moved to the second section, where it can heat up and decompose without the addition of any new materials. With the unimpeded composting process, the finished product can easily be moved to the third bin for holding until you need it, without worrying about new bits being part of your compost.
So how can you build a triple compost bin?
You'll need some wood that is pesticide-free for the purest form of compost. That means no pressure treated wood that is common for decks, home projects, etc. Seek out chemical-free woods such as redwood or cedar, especially repurposed wood, for the best rot-resistance.
There are several plans available online for building a triple compost bin, such as this one from the Instructables and this one from Countryfarm Lifestyles. Among the key factors in building a triple compost bin is to include removable slats in the front of each bin for easy access to your compost. This will allow you to remove the slats to shovel the compost out of each bin, and also allows you to add more air for circulation and quicker composting by adjusting the slats when necessary.
Using metal fabric, chicken wire or another material that allows greater air circulation while also containing the scraps and compost inside is a great idea for some of the walls of a triple compost bin, if you'd like.
Allow a space about 3 feet by 9 feet wide for a standard triple compost bin. Of course, you can use whatever size or method that works for your needs in your location. The thing that matters most, is to just start composting, regardless of how large your compost bin may be!
Feature image courtesy of Instructables