The Nitty Gritty of Composting


Many people are quite capable of taking care of their garbage. Just put in the plastic bag, take it to the road and it’s gone. But occasionally there is some good stuff that goes to our landfill and I’m not talking about the car keys or your kids CD. It’s the volume of organic matter (lawn clippings, leaves, straw etc.) that could be used to make excellent compost or mulch. 

Strictly speaking, mulch is the coarser organic material and compost is the completely decomposed organic matter that makes up soil.

There are many ways to start a compost pile. Using a static pile, bin or tumbler is very common. The pile or bin should be located in an out of the way area of the yard. The pile should be roughly 3 ft. high, 3 ft. wide and 3 ft. deep. Compost piles do best with layers of kitchen or yard waste. Chop or shred coarser yard materials if you want it to compost quickly.

Along with the layers of organic matter, spread soil or “already done compost” over the pile. This layer contains the microorganisms that break down the pile. Occasionally add moisture to your pile if it gets too dry.

The pile temperature should reach 90° to 140° F in four to five days.

Stir the compost layer about once a week.

Your completed compost should be ready to use in 6 – 8 weeks. 

There is lots of educational information on basic composting at

4/4/2008 8:08:00 PM
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