Making Good Compost
Experienced gardeners know the life is in the soil. Not all
soils are created equal, and sometimes they need a little help
from us to supply our garden plants with the optimal
environment for growth. It is possible to have soil that looks
good but is dead. We may not know the difference, but our
What can you do?
We can't create life, but we can create... COMPOST!
Compost can be described as that living part of the soil. It
is composed of decomposing natural materials such as grass
clippings, leaves, wood chips, manure, etc. The key to good
compost lies not in the materials themselves as much as the
lifeforms they support. In mixing up your own batch of compost
your goal is to create the best possible living conditions for
the microorganisms that will bring you the final results.
The time that it takes to go from yard waste to
"black gold"should be about six months,
depending on the materials used and your
attention to working the pile. Some things you
can do to hasten the decomposition process is
to shred your leaves with a chipper / shredder,
add beneficial bacteria, or sift out the larger
chunks before curing.
Your composting experiment might look something like
Find a spot in your yard not too hot but not too shady. It
should be an inconspicuous spot (and preferably away from
Dump your grass clippings and yard waste into 4x4 piles. Try
to get a mix of textures using other materials like wood chips,
sawdust or horse manure.
Turn your piles several times during the first week. You
will notice a lot of heat in this initial decomposing
When the piles' temperature drops, turn them again. This
will replenish the oxygen. Continue to turn your piles every
week to 10 days over the next several months or until you
notice the piles stop giving off heat.
After the piles have cooled and do not heat up again, begin
the curing process by turning the piles only once or twice over
the next two months.