Alternatives to composting

You can reuse organic materials in your yard in other ways. People practice passive composting when they pile up organic materials but don't turn the pile. Without turning, the pile will be cooler and much slower to decompose. The materials break down eventually, and compost can be removed from the bottom of the pile. This method may not kill weed seeds and plant pathogens, and the pile may attract insect and animal pests. To fertilize your lawn, leave nitrogen-rich grass clippings in place...

Choose a composting method

Set-ups for a compost pile range from simple to elaborate. Basic compost heap Simply pile and mix the compost materials on the ground. Cover the pile when it rains to prevent it from getting too wet or losing nutrients to leaching. Turn the heap regularly (every week or two). Building the pile over a layer of scrap plastic pipes drilled with holes allows for air penetration from below and reduces the need for turning. Compost pit Pits are ideal for composting materials consisting mostly of food...

Building a compost pile

This simple recipe for making a compost pile should produce ready-to-use compost in a few months. 1. Accumulate enough materials for a pile at least 2 x 2 x 2 ft or even better, to make a 3-ft cube. 2. Shred or chop the materials to 1-2 inches in size to expose more surface area for faster decomposition. 3. Start the pile with a 4-6 inch thick base of carbon-source materials (dead leaves, wood chips, shredded paper, etc.). Moisten. Add a 2-3 inch layer of nitrogen-rich materials. Food scraps...

What to compost

Efficient Compost Pile

Organisms that decompose organic materials to form compost depend on a diet of carbon and nitrogen. Fresh, green materials are rich in nitrogen, and so are animal manures. Just as plants need nitrogen to grow, decomposers need nitrogen to fuel the decomposition process. Grass clippings are rich in nitrogen, and wood chips are a carbon source. The key to making a compost pile is to combine nitrogen-rich materials with carbon sources in the right proportions, with the right amount of moisture,...

Undesireable materials

May contribute pests (weeds, plant diseases) when inadequately composted Weedy, persistent plants Diseased plants Meat or bones of animals, poultry, fish rial at the top will now be at the bottom. In the process, you are aerating the pile, and you can add water if the pile seems to be dry. 7. Continue to monitor the temperature in the pile. It should heat up again. After the temperature peaks, turn the pile once more. You may note that white molds decrease over time, insect populations will...

Getting started

Compost is easier to turn when piled on concrete or another hard surface, but worms and other beneficial organisms from the soil will have a harder time reaching the pile. Level ground is also a good surface. The dimensions of the pile, as a rule of thumb, should be at least 3 feet high by 3 ft wide by 3 ft long to maintain sufficient heat in its interior. If the pile is too large, air has trouble getting to the center. Maximum recommended size is 5 ft high by 5...