Looking for the perfect “black gold” to keep your garden growing like nobody’s business? Then it’s time to start your own compost pile.
When you’re building your compost pile, think “green” and “brown.” Green materials are those that are wet and high in nitrogen. Brown materials are dry and high in carbon. Here’s a quick rundown so you can keep track:
Greens: Coffee grounds, cover crops, eggshells, fruit wastes, grains, grass clippings hair, leaves, manure, seaweed, vegetable scraps, and weeds.
Browns: Corncobs, cornstalks, hay, nutshells, paper, pine needles, sawdust, straw, vegetable stalks, and seeds.
Everyone has their own favorite recipe for compost, and after you’ve done some experimenting, you will, too. Here’s one of my favorite quick compost recipes to get you started:
Day 1: Shred your materials (leaves, spoiled hay, grass clippings, etc.) with a shredder or rotary lawn mower. You’re going to make a 4-foot-tall pile in an area that’s approximately 8 by 4 feet. Start with a layer of shredded materials, then add a nitrogenous material like manure or cottonseed meal. Mix the materials together. Continue building layers until you’ve got a 4-foot-high pile.
Day 2: The pile should begin to heat up. If not, it’s time to add more nitrogen. Keep the pile moist, but not soggy.
Day 4: Turn the pile, be sure it’s heating up (if it’s not, add more nitrogen), and keep the pile moist.
Day 7: Turn the pile again, check to be sure it’s still hot, and keep the pile moist.
Day 10: Turn the pile again. It should begin cooling about now.
Day 14: The compost is ready to use. It will not be fine humus, but at this stage, it’s perfectly good for use in your garden.
Never, and I mean never, use meat, fish scraps, or cooking fats in your compost pile. Believe you me, they will attract varmints and insects, cause odors, and slow down decomposition of the pile.