Compost Bins in Dreamland

No this isn’t some weird nightmare… it was a real project to build and start using compost bins over at Dreamland too. Up to now, we have been carting all the compost fodder from Dreamland to Homeland’s compost bins. And then sometimes we have to cart the compost back to Dreamland. At a good 100m – 250m one way, you can imagine the distances we clocked up carting compost-related materials back and forth. So Dreamland had to get its compost independence.


This was also one of those lower priority projects that never got started. We had some flooring panels dumped in Homeland’s parking area, which I wanted to use for the sides of the compost bins. The flooring panels must have laid there in an unorganised heap for two months – that is, after the kids tried to construct a cubby-like tent-shaped shelter with the panels, which promptly collapsed in the next strong wind. Since then they have been abusing the flooring panels in many ways.

Compost flooring


Likewise, thanks to a tip from our good friend Scott, we collected some 4m long pallets (ideal for what I wanted to construct) from a development close to their home. The pallets must have laid in waiting for a good month as well – I recall the first load was left strapped to the trailer for a good 2 weeks before we needed the trailer for another mission. Anyway, I finally got my act together. Well, maybe it was an excuse to postpone the work on phase 2 of the driveway…

Compost pallets


This actually turned out to be one of those two-for-one projects. I needed the same tools and the flooring panels for the compost bins as for the “platform” that the kids wanted in a tree near where the flooring panels were lying. I wonder, if the flooring panels were lying elsewhere, would they have made the connection what they can do with it? Anyway, first up was the platform, as they were urging me on to do it. At least that got me going… Ha ha! The biggest problem wasn’t the construction… it was managing the young over-enthusiastic engineer’s ambitious designs. If he had his way, the thing would take off and orbit the town at the push of a button, and fire off compost bombs, and, and, and…

Actually it stated off as only a platform for them to climb on, play on and and have picnics on, but when I checked again they had constructed a neat cubby underneath it – all by themselves. Not bad for an 11 and 10-year old I thought. Anyway the kids now have a nice new play zone – hopefully it keeps them off the “devices” a bit more.

Compost cubby

Cubby and platform

Compost bins

So next up were the actual compost bins. First there was the tedious job of carting everything over to Dreamland. We were expecting two sets of guests in quick succession, so this had to be done quickly in order to make the Homeland parking lot look a little better before they all arrived. It took three good long far slogs with a heavy 4m long pallet each time and then quite a few loads of the smaller pallets and flooring, which I balanced on the wheelbarrow each time. Thank goodness for the first caveman who invented the wheel.

So while I was waiting for the new water tank to arrive, things fell neatly in place and I realised I would have a long enough gap, so I grabbed the tools and set off to construct the compost bins in haste. It was an interesting jigsaw puzzle to fit the pallets and the flooring together. There isn’t any power near where the compost bins were to be placed at Dreamland, so I wanted to try and construct the bins without doing any sawing. Sawing would have required more carting of pallets back and forth. But of course, free pallets come in various shapes, sizes and conditions. So a bit of rudimentary measurement and planning had to take place before concocting it all together.

This was one of those fun cowboy-style projects. These are big rough bins only to be used for compost on slightly uneven ground in the working area, so things needn’t have lined up perfectly. But I must say, doing it all with pallets made it easy as the spars just all aligned naturally. Very little clamping was required, it was just drill and screw, drill and screw and so on to create the base frame.

I had one fun challenge though – I had to balance one 4m long pallet on top of the other one in the howling wind and then screw it in place with some uprights running inside the pallets. This was necessary to get the height for the backs of the bins on the school side. On my first attempt the whole top pallet fell off on top of me, but luckily the middle partition of the frame took the brunt of the knock and I luckily came away unscathed. Made me think of the words of a Paul Kelly song: “Lucky boy that one.” I couldn’t put the uprights up first, as they had to run inside the pallet frames, and there was no way I was going to lift that heavy thing another meter higher and slide it neatly over two uprights that would have been 4 meters apart. On closer analysis, I realised I could screw a support in the middle at the back, so I could lean the long pallet against that and then fit the uprights inside. Anyway, it all worked out.

I was working so fast against the clock to get it done quickly, that I took no photos during the process – that seems to be a common practice here. Anyway, last was the fun piece of screwing the floor boards on as the side panels. Before the tank arrived I had the first load of cedar branches mulched into the big bin. It was right at this time my phone went flat, and the whole tank installation process kicked off.

Compost bins used

First bin with the first batch of cedar mulch

These bins were built at basically zero cost (apart from the screws and the petrol to fetch the pallets) and we can now create a lot more compost without having to cart materials to the other side of the other property. We still have to lug the chipper that we use as a mulcher from one property to the other, but that’s a small price – it’s heavy but it runs comfortably on inflated wheels. Dreamland now has its compost independence, and with everything growing lush this time of the year, it’s a good time to get it filled!

About (207 Articles)
My name is Martin Rennhackkamp, I now live happily in Lara, Victoria, Australia with my wife, two children and two dogs. My interests, apart from the obvious Organic, Biodynamic and Permaculture Gardening and Farming, include sustainable living, surfing, horse-riding, a wide variety of music, dancing, nature, birds, reading, Christianity and a few other things which I never get to...

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