A compost pile is organic matter that is being decomposed by critters, such as earthworms, to be made into fertilizer that will add nutrients back into the soil. Compost can be used as a soil conditioner or fertilizer in gardens, landscaping, horticulture and agriculture.
Composting helps minimize the need for chemical fertilizers that may harm the environment. Chemical and granular fertilizers can be swept off sidewalks by rain and carried into our rivers and lakes affecting our water supplies. Composting also helps reduce the use of landfills by using your unwanted food or material as a natural fertilizer. Using your own compost can help you cut back on chemical fertilizers, help the environment and save you money.
Cow, horse, chicken, and rabbit manure may be used in your compost pile. Stay away from dog and cat feces as these could harbor harmful pathogens and diseases.
1) Find a convenient location for your compost pile that won't get in the way of daily activities.
2) Choose a size for your compost pile. A minimum size of 3x3x3 is needed to generate temperatures that kill weeds and pathogens. Anything over 8 feet will be hard to turn when needed.
3) Start your pile on direct ground, not cement or stones. Place a thin layer of straw or "brown" material on the area you want to create your compost pile. Then, top with a layer of "green" material and moisten with water.
4) Continue adding layers of green and brown material mixed with a small amount of soil and water until the pile is to your desired height.
5) Every couple of weeks or when you add new material, move the center material to the outside of the pile in a method called "turning." This keeps the fresh material mixed with the old material, increasing decomposition.
In a few weeks you should have a layer of soil conditioner in the center of your pile. Use the soil conditioner/fertilizer on your lawn or garden. Start a new compost pile with the remaining material that hasn't been decomposed yet.
Following these guidelines will give you a rich, nutrient filled fertilizer that can be used to condition your lawn or garden soil. Making a compost pile has many benefits for the soil, for the environment and even for you!