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Composting enriches your soil

Backyard composting is more popular than ever for two reasons. First, it greatly reduces the volume of leaves, grass clippings and food scraps that usually goes into the garbage and then into landfills. Second, the nutrient-rich "black gold" humus it produces enriches the soil in gardens and flower beds, and eliminates the need for store-bought fertilizers.

A wide variety of waste material can be composted, from leaves and clippings to egg shells, peels, rinds and paper. Because of variables such as aeration, frequency of turning, moisture and air temperature, composting can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months.

This composting system organizes and simplifies the process, is simple to put together and is less expensive than buying one ready-made. The three pieces are made from standard redwood (for its durability outdoors) and almost all of the required cuts are straight cuts.

Each piece has a distinct function. The large compost bin, which holds waste material as it decomposes, allows plenty of air to circulate and one of its sides can be raised for easier turning. When the compost is ready, the sifter is used to break up larger clumps. The compost is then stored in the smaller bin, which has a removable side for easier access.

The Compost Bins plan, No. 841, is $6.50 and includes complete step-by-step directions with photos, traceable patterns, exploded diagrams, a materials list and composting tips.

A package of nine plans for green-thumbers, No. C43, is $20 and includes greenhouses, trellises, a potting bench and more. A catalog picturing hundreds of do-it-yourself projects is $3.95. Prices include sales tax, postage and handling (for first-class mail, add $1 per item).

To order, clip this article and send it with a check or money order to U-Bild Features, c/o St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 2383, Van Nuys, CA 91409-2383. Please specify plan numbers.