Do you want to try composting, but you’re not sure where to start? This guide is for you! Keep reading to learn how to easily create and maintain a compost pile in your own backyard.
Note: this guide is for hot composting using bins and open piles, not worm bins! And if you haven’t already, it’s a good idea to check out All You Need to Know About Composting.
The location of your compost is vital. It should receive some sun, but not too much. With too much shade, your compost will stay too wet, and with too much sun, it will quickly dry out. So, find a spot with a good balance of both. Also, for open piles, make sure the location is well-draining. A soggy compost pile will smell and won’t garner the same results.
2. Layering Matters
Use twigs, potting mix or any coarse organic material to create an aerated, well-draining foundation for your pile. Now, layer the rest of your organic material. Not sure what you can use? Find out here.
When creating your layers, it’s important to note that compost needs a good balance of nitrogen, carbon, oxygen and water. Nitrogen is added via green matter and food scraps. Carbon is added via dry plant material and paper.
So, place a layer of green matter (nitrogen) in your compost area, then follow it with a layer of brown matter (carbon). Then add a reasonable amount of water to moisten your layers without soaking them. Repeat the process with as many layers as desired.
3. Get Some Fresh Air
Aeration is key. Without proper aeration, some of the beneficial microorganisms in your compost pile will die, and your pile will smell really bad. So, aerate your pile every few weeks with a garden fork or shovel.
4. Maintain the Environment
Your compost pile should always feel like a damp sponge—moist but not sopping wet. Add water in summer as needed, and if your pile gets too wet, add more brown matter.
For temperature, try to keep your pile less than 65 degrees Celsius in the middle. Decomposing matter creates heat, and if the pile becomes too hot, our friendly microorganisms may die. So, add coarse materials or aerate your pile, to reduce the temperature if required.
And with any luck, in a month or two, you should have some premium, high-quality, humus-based soil! Your garden will thank you, trust me.
Do you need a gardener? Simply Helping is here. Our gardeners are ready to keep your garden (or compost pile) happy, healthy, and safe. Click here to learn more.