How To Build, Maintain, And Use A Compost Pile

There is a saying among many gardeners that you need to “Feed the soil, and let the soil feed the plants”.  That is very true, and the easiest way to accomplish this is with .  And what could be better than having your own compost pile to enrich your garden with nutrients.

Every gardener knows that the optimum soil for plants has lots of organic matter in order to feed the plants grown in it.  Good soil is also easier to dig (it will be crumbly and have a loose structure).  It also both holds moisture yet allows it to drain properly.

So how do you get this type of soil, or maintain it if you already have it?  You guessed it, by feeding the soil from your own compost pile.

The easiest way to get started composting is to first build a structure to hold your compost somewhere near or actually in your garden.  One way to do that would be with wooden pallets.  Use four pallets wired together to contain your compost, it makes it easier to add on to create more than one pile by adding three more pallets.

After you have your structure put together you can start making your compost.  It takes awhile for the microherd (organism such as earthworms, etc) to break down the organic matter into compost.  So you need to keep that in mind in your planning.  You may want to consider to separate piles.  One to use and the other getting ready to use for next year.

In order for your compost pile to be effective it needs not only organic material, but moisture, and air.  So it is best to start your pile off with a layer on the bottom that will help it to “breathe”.  Something like cornstalks.

Then you can add grass clippings, leaves, manure, coffee grounds, sawdust, and old vegetables.  Don't add anything that has fat or dairy in it or your pile will smell and may attract pests.  Your compost should smell earthy, if it doesn't you may have too much green organic matter and you should add some more brown organic matter such as grass clippings, soiled hay, leaves or sawdust.

You will want to keep your compost pile moist and use a pitchfork to turn it occasionally.  If you maintain more than one pile then you will not need to turn it as often as you will have longer before you will need to use it in your garden.

When your compost has all broken down you can start to use it in your garden.  Your hard work will be rewarded with rich soil that will be better able to sustain your plants.

**Another tip to help your soil is to sow it with a cover crop when your garden area is not in use.  Something like red clover works well for this.

Happy composting.

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