Making Compost for Your Garden
By Crystal Miller

Compost is important to add to your garden. A garden needs to be nourished and have nutrients replaced each year. It is a fairly easy job to make and keep a compost pile going in your garden.

Compost is decomposed organic material like kitchen scraps such as fruit and vegetable peels, yard and garden trimmings such as leaves and plant trimmings, grass clippings are great. Chicken, cow or horse manure can be added too. Avoid using animal products as these will rot and attract mice and rats.

These items can be mixed together and left to decompose to create a substance that will add beneficial organic material into your soil.

Now that you know what to put in the compost heap, it is time to talk about what is needed to contain this mixture. There are several ideas that may work for you. You can be ultra simple and just throw it all on the ground and lay a plastic tarp over it all. I prefer the idea of having it contained in something with a bit more structure. You could buy a container specifically designed for this purpose. You could make a structure out of wood. Or you could use a garbage can or barrel with holes drilled in it or any other type of container that you see that would work. You will want to be able to stir your compost around so pick a container/structure with this in mind. Garbage cans work well because you can roll them around to mix them up, but make sure the lid is on tight!

Another type of compost bin that I have read about is one using straw bales. You decide how large a bin you would like and then use the bales for three of the sides, leaving one end open. You build up the bales like building blocks about 2 or 3 bales high. As the bales decompose with the compost you simply fork the straw into the bin and add more straw bales to the sides as needed.

Sprinkle your compost pile with water (barely damp) to help the decomposing process. Mix and turn your pile weekly. Occasionally add some chicken or steer manure to help with decomposing of the “green material” (yard and grass clippings).

To protect the pile from rain cover it with a tarp. Generally it will take about 6 to 8 weeks to decompose, but depending on circumstances like temperature and dampness it can take up to a year. A compost pile is an on-going garden process. When the compost is ready it will be a dark, rich, sweet earthy smelling substance, loaded with nutrients for your garden!


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