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Round Wire Compost Pens
Approximate cost: $32
50 ft long/4 ft high 16 gauge wire fencing, holes 2’-3’ wide
Needlenose pliers

The following instructions are for 4 compost pens, approx. 4 ft. high and 4ft. across in diameter. The benefit of rotating your pens is that you can routinely aerate the piles by simply inverting them. It is also a great way to get kids and volunteers involved!

  1. sm_wire bins_resizedUse needlenose pliers to cut fencing into 12 ½ ft sections.
  2. On an end of each cut section, the horizontal wires will stick out about an inch. Use the pliers to make loops from the outstreched wire ends, and hook onto the other edge to close and fasten the circle. You can also fasten the ends with wire or reusable clips.
  3. Line up the 4 compost pens. Collect dried leaves and cut grass - this is a simple mixture that will not attract pests in your exposed compost bin.
  4. After 1 month, rotate your composts.  Unlatch the bins, start one new pile location, and move each pile of compost to a new spot.  The compost materials that were on top will now be on the bottom of a new pile.
  5. Continue changing pile locations among these 5 spots every month.

Wooden Pallet Compost Bin
Approximate cost: Free
Materials: 4-5 wooden pallets

  1. Talk to the maintenance department at your school. See if they have any wooden pallets that are not being used (sometimes garden/hardware stores also give away extra pallets).
  2. Simply stand each pallet up, resting the edges against each other - like making a simple house of cards, but much sturdier! 3. 3. Tie the edges together with rope or twine.
  3. Cover the top with a pile of hay, or use a 5th pallet as a lid.

Review Compost Do’s and Dont's. It's recommended to print out a copy and laminate it – attach to your bin as a reminder!

Garbage Can Compost Bin

  • Approximate cost: $20 (or free - try to locate a garbage can to be donated!)
  • Materials:
  • A clean plastic garbage can at least 24 inches tall with a lid (can be a recycled one)
  • A few bricks or a piece of lumber (to set the can on)
  • Hammer and nails or drill
  • Torn paper or paper bags
  • Dry leaves chopped small
  • Kitchen scraps, including vegetable or fruit peelings, egg shells, coffee grounds, tea bags
  • Soil
  • Watering can
  • Small scrap piece of carpet


  1. Punch or drill holes around the circumference of the can every 4 to 6 inches to let in air.  Also add some holes on the bottom.  This aerates the compost.
  2. Choose a shady area of the garden for the bin so the compost won’t dry out in the sun. Put down the bricks to make a platform for the bin.
  3. Fill the bottom off the compost bin with shredded newspaper or dry leaves until it is about 1/8 - 1/4 full.
  4. Add soil from your garden on top of the newspaper layer, until your bin is 1/2 full.
  5. Next, place any uncooked food scraps into compost such as fruit, vegetables, crushed egg shells, coffee grounds, teas bags, or paper products such as paper towels. (Don't add meat, dairy products, oil, weed seeds, or bones to your compost. Many of these ingredients will attract flies and animals, and will create unpleasant odors.)
  6. Stir with a shovel or stick, making sure to cover your food scraps with dirt.
  7. Spray with lukewarm water until moist, but not soaking wet.
  8. With a drill make 8 to 10 small holes on bin lid.
  9. Place lid on compost.
  10. You should alternate adding green and brown material to the compost bin.  Green includes chopped plant material (not weeds or diseased plants), fruit and vegetable peelings.  Brown is the dry ingredients, such as dry leaves and shredded newspaper.  Make sure to spray the mixture if it seems dry.
  11. Every other day you add food scraps to bin you should give it a stir.  Mixing the compost will help the decomposition process go faster. You can lay the can on its side and roll it to mix.
  12. If fruit flies are a problem, cover the compost with hay.

Wait 2-3 months to use your compost.  When the compost is ready the food scraps will be decomposed and the compost will be dark and crumbly. The new compost will be hot, so leave it a few days, until it is cool to the touch, before using it on plants.  You can use a mesh screen or chicken wire to separate out any pieces that aren’t finished.  Save at least 1/3 of your original compost to start composting again.