A basic, no-nonsense, no-frills compost bin couldn't be easier to build, and you couldn't begin at a better time of the year than now.
Fallen leaves are too valuable a garden resource to set out on the curb. They make the best compost--for improving soil, making potting mixes or to use as a mulch--and a bin speeds the decomposition. It also keeps it neat and tidy and--this should be the clincher--putting leaves in a bin is a lot easier than trying to stuff them in plastic bags.
A basic bin can be made from welded wire mesh, the kind used to reinforce concrete or stucco, and it is available at building supply stores. Ask for the kind with the 1x2-inch mesh openings that is tight enough to keep the leaves in. Three-foot-wide rolls are about the right height and 12 feet from the roll will make a circular bin about four feet across.
Because the wire comes off a roll, it will naturally form a cylinder so all you have to do is overlap the ends about six inches and then fasten them together with wire. Or, buy the nifty fasteners called "cage clips." A special tool (it and the clips are usually found at large pet or feed stores) clamps the clips around the wire. You will find other uses for these clever clips, such as making tomato cages, bean trellises and the like.