The Q&A Archives: Compost

Question: I'd like to know what's the importance of a compost pile, actually what is a compost pile and what is the usage for it. I would like to have a vegetable garden this coming season but do not know what to do and when should I even start it. Thanks

Answer: Having a compost pile in your yard is an excellent way to recycle and reuse garden clippings. Finished compost makes an excellent soil amendment, and perfect mulch material, which will help enrich your soil and help your flowers and vegetables grow to their full potential. It's easy to start a compost pile. You can dedicate a corner of your yard and build a structure, or you can simply pile things together, no structure required.

Any time is the right time to start a compost pile! Springtime is great, because you'll have lots of weeds and vegetable matter to dump in. Although there are all sorts of "formulas" for the perfect compost pile, all you really need to understand is that you need a balance of nitrogen and carbon sources. Nitrogen sources include anything fresh and green--fresh grass clippings, freshly pulled weeds--also kitchen vegetable scraps, and manures. Carbon sources tend to be brown--straw or old hay, for example, or dried leaves. The smaller the pieces of material, the quicker they will decompose, so, if possible, chop up kitchen waste; you can even run the lawnmower over a pile of fall leaves, to break them up. Then, simply begin layering your "greens" with your "browns". Occasionally, throw in a shovelful of dirt, to introduce some microorganisms and earthworms. Compost will result if you do nothing but cover the pile, and keep an eye on it so it stays moist but not soggy, but you can hurry the process by regularly turning the material in the pile, moving the warm center out towards the edges and moving the cold material from the edges into the center of the pile. That's all there is to composting!

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