Easy Project: How to Build a Compost Pile
I’m already clip, clip, clipping all the spent flowers in my garden. I drop them on the paths and rake them up for my compost pile. See how I build my compost pile and what I add from the kitchen! With this deep, dark compost, you can fertilize all your garden plants naturally and inexpensively!
1. The pile
Make the compost pile, bin, heap, or whatever you choose to
use, at least three feet wide and tall, four or five feet is even better! The compost should be in contact with the ground so that worms and micro-organisms can get to it.
2. Two parts brown to 1 part green
Mix roughly two parts dry, which is carbon-rich material like wood chips, dried leaves or twigs to one part wet, greens which are nitrogen-rich material like grass clippings, kitchen waste, green clippings. Mix or layer these two types of debris.
3. Compost never do’s
Never add meat, fish, dairy, or greasy foods. Broken up egg shells, but not eggs. Be careful with bad weeds. These should be bagged up, seeds and all and taken OFF the property. Many weed seeds and diseases are destroyed if the compost gets hot enough, although some are very resistant.
4. Brown on top
Top off the pile with brown material to cut down on flies. Oak leaves or pine needles are fine for this.
5. Wet the pile
Moisten the pile if it gets too dry. This will hasten decomposition. Ants or rats are an indication that the pile is too dry.
6. But not too wet
Do not allow the pile to be too wet. Soggy compost attracts flies and can get smelly. Cover with a tarp during long rainy periods.
7. Have fun and exercise turning your pile
Turn pile to aerate it and speed decomposition. Turning can be hard work and is not essential as long as the debris does not compress too much. If so, add lots of brown and less green on top and remove decomposed mulch from the bottom.
8. Not too many twigs
If your yard generates too much brown waste (twigs, branches) chip them for faster decomposition. Lay them along paths or under large shrubs. In a larger pile, they can create shelter for birds.
9. Grass clippings
If you have a lot of green waste , such as grass clippings, spread them in thin layers in garden beds, or leave them on the lawn where they’ll decompose quickly … or get rid of more lawn.
10. Work along with Nature
Compost is natural. Take it easy!
“Unless you are in a race or something, there are only two “rules” for successful composting: Stop throwing all that stuff away, and pile it up somewhere.” ~Felder Rushing
Sheet composting is laying the clippings, leaves or scraps in a thin layer, piling the layerson top of each other, mixed with a little soil. This way the clipping compost as the seasons go on and no pile or set place for the compost is needed.
This is my favorite way to compost and the lazy way indeed! As I putter in the garden, clipping and trimming, I tuck my trimmings into the flower beds or along my log edgings. Some go under and around the roses. In Spring, I’ll weed and while doing so, I’ll turn the over soil in the beds, clippings and all. Each year that I do this the soil gets richer, more crumbly and friable.
Laying grass clippings as described above is also a form of sheet composting.
A tip for straw bale gardens
At the end of the growing season, your straw bales can be disassembled and spread out for a new mulch pile or to add to a new one. The insides of the bales will have turned into the most lovely, dark compost with only thin edges of the bale to show what it was. With my four bales, I easily knocked them all down and composted the old tomato and paper plants. The straw was surprisingly composted already!