The composter consists of two parts: an outer basket containing wood chips and an inner cylinder of compost that is always topped with carbon material and a mesh lid if we're really worried about critters.
The outer ring of wood chips surrounding the compost chamber insulates the compost, absorbs any smell from the compost and makes it harder for critters to reach the compost. Who wants to bite through wire mesh and then crawl through a foot of woodchips to eat rotten fruit? Hopefully no one. Not even you, neighborhood possum.
The inner ring of compost has decomposed very fast, it sinks about a foot every two weeks. The woodchip area is also full of mycelium and a mushroom or two pops up every month.
Our last composter (pictured with me here) also featured a fan to aerate the compost using a solar hot air collector. You can check out more about our composting experiments at our blog for decentralized waste management strategies.
We also have a temperature probe in ours (see blue cord) to see how hot it is.
Step 1: Equipment and Materials
12.5' x 4' quarter inch galvanized mesh or as the hardware store calls it "hardware cloth"
3' by 6.28' mesh or fencing to separate inner compost chamber from woodchip insulation. (we found old 4' wire fencing)
2" or longer wire pieces to piece mesh together (or zip ties)
wire cutters (it's such a pain to do this if you don't have good wire cutters)
Composters need to be big enough to allow the material to get hot and stay hot. This can be achieved by building an uninsulated composter that's 1 cubic yard or it can be samller if it's insulated to keep heat in.
Size of mesh needed for Smaller composter that's only 3' diameter with inner basket of 1'. For this one the composting chamber is only 2' in diameter but it's insulated on all sides by 1' of woodchips. My drawings refer to dimensions for this smaller composter.
7' by 4' of quarter inch galvanized mesh for outer compost container
3' by 3.14' cheap mesh for inner cylinder
Why make a smaller one? Because space is expensive.