How to start your own Compost pile

What You’ll Need

Raw composting materials – when broken down, these materials add Nitrogen and Carbon back to the soil.

  • table scraps
  • fruits & vegetables
  • leaves
  • sawdust
  • newspaper
  • cardboard
  • flower cuttings
  • straw
  • eggshells
  • wood chips

How To Use

Start off by selecting a composting site big enough to host all of your materials. Over the next few weeks/months, this is where your pile of raw materials will be broken down.

We recommend adding straw at the base of your pile – this aids in things like aeration and drainage.

After the straw is in place, starting adding alternating wet and dry layers of raw material. Throw in manure every two or three dry/wet cycles to accelerate decomposition. If you choose not to include manure because you planned on using your compost on food crops, any source of nitrogen will accomplish the same thing.

After your compost pile is full and all your materials have been used, it’s time for the maintenance phase. Depending on whether or not you live in an area that receives its fair share of rainfall, you can either spray your pile with a hose every week, or you can let nature do it for you.

It’s also important that you cover your pile – not only does this ensure overwatering doesn’t occur, it also traps in heat, an essential ingredient in the process of breaking down your raw materials.

Every few weeks it’s necessary to turn your pile with a shovel or pitchfork to aerate the materials – this adds oxygen to the mix.

You can add new material to the pile as it comes to you, but try to maintain a 1/3rd green 2/3rd brown ratio. Too much or too little of a certain material can throw off the balance, resulting in a compost pile too slow to decompose. When in doubt, add more carbon-based materials such as leaves, straw, or sawdust.

Tips To Keep In Mind

  • Compost piles should generally run anywhere between 130 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Compost should be used as a soil additive, not exclusively as the growing medium
  • A compost tumbler can make the turning process easier and can stimulate microbe activity
  • Nitrogen-rich materials can release odors if not covered properly by other carbon-based materials
  • Rotate the hot, inner area of your pile with the cooler, outer areas – this gives all materials the chance to be broken down properly

Feel free to post your own composting tips, questions, or comments on our Facebook page! We love hearing your feedback and are eager to address any concerns you might have.

3 Comments

  1. Dennis

    Fedco sells microbes that can be added to help start the process

    Reply
  2. Rachel Coleman

    Great post! I just moved to a new place with a huge garden and one of my new targets is starting a compost pile. I’m not very into gardening at all, but at least should rearrange and clean the garden. Composting is a good way to handle with the organic waste. Thank you for the useful information and tips!

    Reply
    1. alec (Post author)

      You’re most certainly welcome!

      Reply

Leave a Reply to Rachel Coleman Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *