How to make a vertically stacked composter using milkcrates.
This instructable is based on Terracotta home composter by artworker
and the creators of the terracotta composter, Daily Dump (http://www.dailydump.org/ )
When I saw the terracotta composter, I though it was the most brilliant composter I have ever seen. It was also absolutely beautiful. I saw some problems however. First, the price for terracotta pots this size is expensive (my favorite budget is 0$, so that didn't quite work...). Second, the amount of work to find the pots that will stack well, make the holes without breaking the pots, the fragility of terracotta, and the weight of it was against this lovely project.
Then I though of the perfect substitute, a milkcrate! It stacks perfectly, has plently of air circulation, is sturdy, has handles to lift them easily, light weight, low cost. All you needed is 3 milkcrates, mesh/screen, newspaper, a lid, and a base if it's not resting on the earth directly.
The only down is the aesthetic of it, the terracotta pots are so beautiful. But the milkcrates has their own charm, especially in my urban surrounded garden.
So here's my milkcrate composter!
Step 1: you will need
-plastic or metal mesh/screen, or weed barrier fabric
-hot glue gun
-screws (preferably rust proof)
-old drawer handles
-and organic waste to start your compost
To make this project, all the material I used were either found, reused, or I had it already at home, so the total budget was a wonderful 0$!
Step 2: prepare your milkcrates
Choose your milkcrates
You could decorate them using paint, but you could also leave them the color they are, especially if you have various bright colors.
A note on composting however: black will generate more heat that will help the compost and speed things up. But it is not as pretty...
I decided to use two black ones and one red to add color
Clean them with a rag.
Cut pieces of your screen/mesh or weed barrier fabric and hot glue gun them inside the milkcrates to cover the side holes. This will keep your compost inside and prevent pests to go in, but air and water to circulate. I had leftover of weed barrier fabric that I used for my square foot garden, so I used that, but you could salvage some mosquito net from a tent or an old window that ended up in the trash.
Step 3: lid and base
Use wood (or other material) to create a lid and a base (to protect your floor if your composter is not resting directly on the ground)
To make this lid, I used old wood from an IKEA bed frame, and old drawer handles that I salvaged from my neighborhood trash. My composter will be resting on the earth directly, so I do not need a base. I glued and used screws to hold the wood planks together to form the lid, drilled holes to attach the handles, and varnished it to protect it.
Step 4: assemble your composter
Choose the spot where your composter will go.
Lay 2 layers of newspaper at the bottom of your milkcrates to stop the compost from falling through, stack them (on the base if you have one), and put the lid on. Your composter is now ready!
Step 5: Start composting
You are now ready to start composting!
Good luck and have fun!
here are the steps and image with instructions taken from the Terracotta home composter by artworker ( http://www.instructables.com/id/Terracotta-home-composter/ ) and created by Daily Dump ( http://www.dailydump.org/ ) on how to use your composter (Pot A would be the top Milkcrate, Pot B the middle Milkcrate, and Pot C the bottom Milkcrate)
Start adding the kitchen waste to the composter (Pot A)
When the Pot A is 3/4 full, switch the Pots A and B. And start adding the materials in Pot B which is now at the top.
When the Pot B gets filled 3/4 the ingredients in Pot A has shrunken.
You can again switch the Pots A and B
When the middle tear pot gets almost filled 3/4, empty the middle tear Pot to Pot C
And start the process all over again.
The final contents of Pot C starts shrinking and thus more materials can be added from the middle tear Pot to Pot C.
When Pot C gets filled 3/4 empty the pot before starting to fill the Pot C again.
At this point the contents of Pot C has decomposed completely.
Sieve the contents of Pot C and you get perfectly good non-smelling manure (compost).
The larger pieces that are left after sieving can be added to the Pot at the top for further decomposing.
Keep the compost little damp by sprinkling water in the upper Pot occasionally.
The whole process takes around 90 days.
You can find much more instructions on the Daily Dump website on how to compost and troubleshooting that I recommend reading. http://www.dailydump.org/