Using a Vintage Citrus Crate for Our Backyard Compost Bin

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Not gonna lie, when I got the idea into my head to buy some Nigerian Dwarf goats and turn the northern border of our backyard into a barnyard, dealing with goat poop was kind of an afterthought.
But after about a week or two of shoveling goat pellets I realized I needed to make a decision – fill the city green waste bin each week, or start a backyard compost bin? The DIYer / Urban Homesteader side of me decided that hording my goats poop sounded like a fantastic idea. (Even though I didn’t really have any use for compost.. like, at all.)
So to remedy my “problem” of not being in dire need of my goats weekly fecal load, I made some plans to order some rare heirloom seeds, build some raised garden beds, fill out the empty flower beds, and maybe build a greenhouse while I’m at it. Ya know, to save money. (You DIYers understand, right? Lol!)
So step one – begin saving my goats poop. I knew I would need a bin type structure for my composting plan, with good airflow but solid enough to not spill over.. it basically needed to be able to hold the small pellets as they break down to usable manure / fertilizer. So that pretty much left me with the cliche DIY Pinterest style recycled pallet bin with chicken wire dealio.
Nothing against the repurposed pallets but.. they sometimes look a bit janky in my opinion. I wanted something similar functionally but not so… I dunno.. homespun? I invested a lot of time and effort into my goat pen (click here to check it out!) and I didn’t want a bunch of crudely nailed together boards and wire with an obvious pile of goat turds to mar my little outdoor landscape. So I started thinking outside the box…
And then it hit me! Vintage citrus crates! The newer ones are all made of plastic, but the older crates are wood, with thin airflow slats – perfect for goat manure composting! And they don’t look awful! Woohoo!

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It took a little bit of searching, but eventually one turned up on Craigslist for a mere $25. An old citrus farm in Ivanhoe, California was going out of business and selling the entire farm and supplies, including vintage crates, vintage wooden citrus ladders and tons of vintage barn lumber. The coolest part was that each fruit crate (ranging from the 1940’s to the 1970’s) featured stamps from local farms, providing some awesome local history to the vintage find.
Some of the crates were in terrible condition, but the majority were totally workable. It was just a matter of finding one with a logo or a location that struck my fancy. I wanted something with some obviously local history, and we eventually settled on this little beauty from T. Apkarian & Sons – an old fruit farm located in Reedley, California, approximately 25 miles southeast of Fresno. Reedley dubs itself “The World’s Fruit Basket” and it just tickles me pink to be incorporating so much local history into my little budding backyard farm.

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T. Apkarian & Sons of Reedley, California 1950’s era citrus crate and fruit box logo.

We’ve been using our compost bin for about two to three weeks now, and between the two goats, the uneaten alfalfa (goats are notorious wasters of perfectly good grazing), and the soiled bedding (it’s winter, so I’m spoiling them with inches of warm straw), the bin is already close to half full! Whew! Good thing I have four raised garden beds in the work, yeah?!

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So far, composting goat poop is nowhere near as messy or smelly or labor intensive as I’d feared. The naturally dry pellets are easy to collect, they are virtually odorless, they don’t attract insects or flies and they decompose at a fairly quick rate! Add the fact that the goat droppings can be used in nearly any type of garden (flowering plants, herbs, vegetables, fruit trees, etc.) and I am pretty much ready for spring!

So as far as poop containers go, how does mine look? Not too shabby, eh?!

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Gingi is a photographer, cosplayer, amateur chef, crazy cat lady, anime otaku, bookworm, generic geek, world traveler, conservative Christian, homeschooler, devoted military wife and stay at home new mother of two little girls.

Gingi blogs about anything and everything that is relevant to being a supermom, stay at home wife, homeschooler and geek girl! You can contact her at gingifreeman@gmail.com or via the contact form on her website at www.domesticgeekgirl.com

Gingi Freeman

Gingi is a photographer, cosplayer, amateur chef, crazy cat lady, anime otaku, bookworm, generic geek, world traveler, conservative Christian, homeschooler, devoted military wife and stay at home new mother of two little girls. Gingi blogs about anything and everything that is relevant to being a supermom, stay at home wife, homeschooler and geek girl! You can contact her at gingifreeman@gmail.com or via the contact form on her website at www.domesticgeekgirl.com

28 thoughts on “Using a Vintage Citrus Crate for Our Backyard Compost Bin

    • 26 January, 2015 at 2:26 pm
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      Yeah, I’m surprised I haven’t seen too many of these around the interwebs! So far it’s working perfectly! <3

      Reply
  • 26 January, 2015 at 1:41 pm
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    I think this idea is absolutely brilliant. I love talkin’ compost. Only compost my veggie scrapes but that’s because I don’t have any goat poop to comport in the nifty citrus crates. Isn’t Craigslist great! Very inspiring. Now I just need some poop. Goat poop. If goat poop envy a thing now?!?

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    • 26 January, 2015 at 2:33 pm
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      LOL, there are some local gals who are looking for goat manure for their veggies (especially since we’re switching our goats to an organic diet, it’ll be ORGANIC goat poop! lol) and my husband was like.. “Who knew goat poop is a hot commodity?!?!” lol! 😉 We really need to start composting our kitchen waste!

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    • 26 January, 2015 at 2:39 pm
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      We picked up a bunch of vintage barn wood / lumber from the citrus farm in Ivanhoe to make our raised garden beds (haven’t made them yet, the lumber is still piled up by the side of the house!) but I hadn’t thought of using the crates for planters! They’re certainly versatile!

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    • 26 January, 2015 at 2:41 pm
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      Thanks, you too!! <3

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  • 26 January, 2015 at 3:37 pm
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    Such a fantastic idea! I have a compost bin as well but mine does not look as great as yours. 🙂 I need to try to find something like that too. I love the vintage look!

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    • 26 January, 2015 at 3:39 pm
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      Yeah, I figure if I’m gonna have a poop holder, it may as well be a CUTE poop holder! hehe! 😉

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  • 26 January, 2015 at 5:01 pm
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    I’ve never even heard of vintage citrus crates, so this great idea never would have hit me:) They look terrific and are really the perfect thing. I’m enjoying learning about this adventure… so far from what I know!

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    • 26 January, 2015 at 5:02 pm
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      I live in an agricultural community, so I see them in fields and along orchards all the time.. lol.. but yeah, I’m very happy with it as a compost bin so far!! <3

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    • 26 January, 2015 at 6:19 pm
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      Yeah, that’s the best part for me! I’m a sucker for local history, being born and raised in this area!

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  • 26 January, 2015 at 7:26 pm
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    What a great idea. I need to remember this for when we have land.

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    • 26 January, 2015 at 7:27 pm
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      Yeah, it’s certainly cheaper than buying pellets and chicken wire.. sturdier and prettier too! <3

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  • 26 January, 2015 at 8:22 pm
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    I so love to read your posts, you always combine history, interesting facts and practical aspects!Exactly the kind of container I would have liked!!!!
    You know how to procure yourself some work, eh?! ;-))))

    Rosa
    Styleyourselfinstyle.blogspot.com

    Reply
    • 26 January, 2015 at 8:26 pm
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      I am a history junky! hehe! And I figure if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing right! (But at the same time I am notoriously thrifty, haha!) I’m glad you enjoy my blog posts, I very much enjoy yours! <3

      Reply
  • 27 January, 2015 at 2:13 pm
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    What a great idea, old citrus bins! I love the look of them, with their metal edges and crews and all 🙂

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    • 27 January, 2015 at 2:40 pm
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      Yeah, I’m a sucker for the industrial vintage look.. def way cooler than anything I could have whipped up!

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    • 27 January, 2015 at 4:22 pm
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      I need to get the knack of helping speed it up / mixing it / what have you… everything is so vague online!!

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  • 27 January, 2015 at 10:19 pm
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    Thumbs up girl! You nailed it with those lovely vintage crates 🙂

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    • 27 January, 2015 at 10:30 pm
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      Thanks!! I am quite smitten with them!!

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    • 1 February, 2015 at 5:01 am
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      Maybe you could have a small kitchen compost bin? I’m thinking of doing one of those next!

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    • 7 February, 2015 at 4:06 am
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      Thanks! <3

      Reply

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