How To Make A Compost Pile - Knowledgebase Question

Story, AR
Question by irons4
October 16, 1999
What materials to use to make a compost pile in part shade?


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Answer from NGA
October 16, 1999

0

I love composting, because there really is no "proper" way--no matter what you do, eventually everything will turn into compost. To speed the process along, you need four ingredients: carbon (browns), such as leaves, straw, shredded paper, woody prunings from the landscape; nitrogen (greens), such as grass clippings, kitchen fruit and veggie scraps, fresh clippings from the landscape, manure; water, and oxygen. An easy way to start out is to mix the carbons and nitrogens in about a 50/50 ratio. As you construct the pile, sprinkle it with water from your hose. The ingredients should be as wet as a damp sponge. Don't try to make the pile and then water it all down from the top. The water finds paths to pour through out the bottom! The pile should be at least 3 feet by 3 feet by 3 feet (1 cubic yard) to have enough mass to insulate and retain heat. As the microorganisms that are doing the decomposing die off, they release heat. When the pile cools, they've probably run out of oxygen, which is where turning the piles frequently comes in. The more turning and reapplying of moisture, the more quickly the materials will decompose. On the other hand, you can construct a good pile and then just let it sit. It will decompose, but take 6-8 months. Hint: the smaller the ingredients, the faster they will decompose. This is just a quick outline to get you started. For more info, a great book is "Let it Rot" by Stu Campbell and it's usually available at libraries and bookstores. Enjoy your composting!

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