Living in a new HOA has some up sides -like my basement didn’t leak a drop in the 15″ of rain Wisconsin got in the past 2 weeks. But the same reason my basement is bone dry, also means growing things here is a labor of love. See our home was backfilled with a 4-8′ layer of clay and rock. The only topsoil on site is the 3″ vaneer I trucked in to cover our half acre. So I spend alot of energy trying to literally build soils on site for my little Garden of Eatin. Year 1 had us going form over function as I struggled to plant an entire half acre by hand, including a lawn and 2000 sq ft of perennial beds, and 1000 sq ft of prairie. But the next year I went up to a nice cedar two bin system that was intended to be a display model for our side business. That bin is/was gorgeous, but even with 2.5 cu yards of capacity, we still outgrew it in the winter when nothing was breaking down. We make about 5 yards annually, so I had Bigger Plans. Imagine that… So I sold the 2 bin system to the daycare that lives in our Church during the week, and Got Busy.
When we built our Earth Victory Gardens, we discovered a source for 3x12x16′ reclaimed fir boards. A company had salvaged them from a warehouse that was being torn down. And they were selling them for $20. Sure they’re full of nails, but that is an INSANE amount of lumber. The day after I visited the salvage yard the idea for this bin was born. It was to be 4 bins wide, and made almost entirely of these Titan Sized boards. It was to be a bin that just may become an heirloom in our family for generations. I bought 6 3×12’s for $120, and purchased another $100 in cedar and got to work this past Saturday. The pile of lumber at left weighs over 600 pounds and I had to borrow a circular saw that takes a 8.5″ blade to cut them. From Great Beginnings come Great Things! I will spare you the play by play -the design is amazingly simple and should be apparent from the pics. So here it is:
Each “Stall” is 36″ deep by 39″ tall for no other reason than that is the max I could eck out of a 16′ board with little to no waste. The cedar slats in the front are made from decking so they are 5/4″ thick and pretty dang stout. Here is another shot from the side to show the interior:
You can see the 3×12’s are spaced about 1.5″ to allow in some air, and the stall sides are assembled with 2×2 cedar to set the spacing, and the back 3×12’s, which are 153 inches long, are screwed into the stall sides using 5″ long lags. Once they were drawn tight this thing is Rock Solid. In fact it didn’t even tweak out of square when I levered it into place with a 6′ pry bar! The doors to the stalls are just decking run in slats formed by a 2×2 and a piece of decking screwed into the front edge of the stall divider. Spacing for the front slats? A galvanized roofing nail:
This set up will be able to hold 3 separate 1 cu yard piles in various stages of decomposition with an empty bin to allow me to turn the piles into to… which should be just right. I am VERY pleased with the results of a weekend’s labor -as Mia said, its a nice mix between Farm practicality and HOA looks. And it is so tough not even I should be able to break it! Why do I need so much compost space if I don’t have any trees?
The buckets are 3 weeks worth of “gorp” that the local Coffee Shop saves for me -to the tune of about 25 gallons weekly. The barrow load is weeds from half of one of my large perennial beds. True its been a while since I weeded, but that is a 10 cu ft wheel barrow… We are essentially a “pioneer” ecosystem that I have yet to fill all the niches in, and Nature is filling them for me with thistle, quack grass, and bladder campanula.
But that still begs the question of WHY I go through all this. The answer couldn’t be simpler:
The Smooth Penstemon is in bloom in the prairie…
Be the Change.