The why and how to make your own free fertilizer and soil conditioner.
||DO NOT INCLUDE THESE:
- any vegetable matter (not too woody)
- kitchen scraps (not greasy)
- egg shells
- hair, feathers, dust from vacuum cleaner
- dead heads, weeds, grass clippings, flower stems, shredded leaves
- rhubarb leaves
- shredded paper including newspaper and coffee filters
- sawdust, wood shavings, wood ashes (in small quantities)
- coffee grounds including the paper filter
- earth (this provides the microorganisms and earthworms which do the work, and on top discourages flies and evaporation)
- keep a bag of shredded leaves beside your pile to add as you build with wetter kitchen scraps
- Grease, fat, cheese, milk, bones
- diseased plants (not always killed by heat)
- morning glory, ivy, sheep sorrel (these re-sprout)
- weed seeds
- dog and cat feces
- sawdust from pressure treated wood
- pine needles do not rot quickly and are acidic
- oak leaves do not rot quickly; they should be shredded and used sparingly
- lime slows the process
|To rot, everything in your pile must be moist; damp like a squeezed sponge.
Add water in dry weather especially around the edges.
|Shredded or chopped material decomposes faster
|Add material in small quantities (green, brown and earth), no more than 4 or 5 inches thick.
This is what most guides mean when they say to layer your pile. Layers disappear when you turn (aerate) your pile.
|Black plastic container from the city or hardware store
||Dig a trench in your vegetable garden,
fill it with your plant material, water it and cover with soil
|Make your own. Size depends on:
- how much plant material do you have?
- height: must be easy to fill, empty and turn
- width: more than 3 feet (you need space to dig it out)
- depth (front to back): greater than 4 feet will be difficult to dig out or turn without climbing in
|Dig a depression in the ground in an inconspicuous place and throw your compost materials into it
|Make your container from:
- wood (not pressure treated). Leave spaces between boards for air
- chicken wire held up with wooden or metal stakes
- a plastic garbage pail with holes in the sides for air
- used wooden pallets
- snow fence
- three-sided concrete block enclosure with spaces for air.
- lid can be a sheet of plastic or tarpaulin, or a sheet of wood
- even the leaves you collected in the fall in bags can be moistened and left to rot
- Bottom can be open for earthworms to move freely back into the soil
- Lid is necessary to keep moisture in or too much rain or snow or, as in my case, pine needles, out
- an opening in the front to dig out compost. This can be a door or removable slats
- a single container may be added to continuously and the compost removed from the bottom
- two containers, not necessarily side by side, allow the first to decompose while the second receives fresh material
- three containers: the third is a smaller holding area for the raw materials like leaves, earth to add to the active pile