What is this thing?

See that compost bin?  Not for long.  In a very short while it’s going to be full of the weeds of the winter garden then topped with a couple inches of finished compost and immediately planted.  So what appears to be a compost bin now will soon look like a planter.  That’s the kind of double duty I like to make compost do.  Just about as soon as it’s made, it’s top dressed and either direct seeded or transplanted.  Since this is still January and I am at the 45th parallel, it’s too cold to direct seed, so I’m relying on lettuce starts that I have inside which will grow for another week or so then get popped in atop my compost planter.  As I look at this photo it also also occurs to me that if I put two more pieces of rebar in along with their red, no-poked-eye protectors, then I could put some plastic over the whole thing and get a mini-greenhouse out of the deal (the red protection caps in this case protect the plastic from getting punctured from the rebar).  Because our sunny winter days (like today!!!) are usually cold, I can probably get away without even venting the thing for another month.  This shot is from my school garden, at Franciscan Montessori Earth School in SE Portland, where we took advantage of the sun to pull some really woody radishes and to prep the soil for pea planting, which will happen soon.
The compost sleeve (for want of a better word) that I am using came from the Peaceful Valley catalog.  It’s supremely handy in the garden.  To form a good temporary bin, it’s as easy as resting it on the ground, hammering in four 48″ rebar stakes to hold it upright, filling it, then removing the stakes.  After the pile has settled for a week or two, even the sleeve can be yanked off and set down again somewhere else for the next pile formation.
Hope you’re finding a moment or two to get outside when the weather favors and start crankin’ the engine so you can roll into the season at full speed when it finally arrives.  Happy composting….er, plantering!