What method of composting is:
--uses only natural materials that you have around?*
--blends into the environment most harmoniously?*
* The Bird's Nest Bin!
The bird's nest bin, also known as the binless bin, is a naturally constructed compost bin that you build out of the large, coarse plant materials that you have around the yard. Instead of throwing the big stalky stuff, like broccoli and kale plants, prunings from bushes, sunflower stalks, etc., into one pile together with the small, easy-to-degrade stuff like young weeds and kitchen food waste, they are separated so that the heavy-duty materials make up the walls and the finer materials are in the center. What a simple concept and how beautifully it works!
Without so much bulky material mixed in, the finer materials get to break down faster. The bin looks much neater than if everything is thrown together. Reminiscent of a bird's nest, the binless bin blends naturally into the landscape with charm and character. No need to buy plastic bins or build other structures.
It's easy to make a bird's nest bin. Pound four stakes into the ground to make a square four to six feet wide. These will provide all the structural support you need. Within the square, lay a few stalks crisscross on top of each other on the ground. This will allow some air to come through the bottom of the pile and be drawn upward through the pile to enhance breakdown. Around the perimeter, lay down your coarse materials to make walls eight to ten inches thick: big weeds, spent vegetable plants and flowers, prunings from shrub or trees, edges of sod you've dug up, old hay if you've got an excess of it--whatever you've got around, that you want to get rid of.
The center of the pile is reserved for the small stuff and the rotten stuff. Add food waste from the kitchen, the little weeds from the garden, the rotten fruit found under the trees. Always remember to cover up any food waste so as not to invite animals. Try to have a supply on hand at all times of something, like weeds, leaves, wood chips, or straw, to layer in with your food scraps and cover it up. If you don't have enough leaves of your own, there's a plentiful supply every fall, when people kindly leave these bags full of the precious compost ingredient (and excellent mulching material, but that's another story) on the curb.
Keep the walls higher than the center at all times, so nothing falls out. Once the bin is a few feet high, after a garden season, you can let it sit and start another. After a year or so the interior of the bin left sitting will become dark compost, unrecognizable in origin, ready to enrich your garden. The wall material will have only partially broken down and can be re-used for a new bin.
Eventually you might want to expand to a three-bin unit. The bin in the middle shares a wall with the other two. This way you can always have one bin sitting and ripening; another to add to, and the third for harvesting finished compost.
Try it and see the magic of composting for yourself!