*There are many different ways to keep your compost, including the following:
A) Wire, Wood, or Cinder block structures:
|Wire Structure for Compost|
*use one of these products to form a square or circular shape, but leave an opening (ex: 3 sided square with 4th side open for easy access)
*with this structure, you turn compost ingredients with a garden fork to help the decomposition process
*this is a clean-looking way and yet also traditional-ish way to keep compost (compared to the other options)
|Cinder Block Structure for Compost|
B) Pit or Pile composting:
*dig a hole 2-3 feet deep and unlined. Add compost ingredients until the pit is filled. Cover the compost with soil and allow it to decompose. When ready, unearth the compost and use.
*piles work only if you are diligent about turning your pile and keeping it moist. This is not an attractive option but it is the cheapest.
C) Buy a ready-made compost bin from a garden supply shop
*be careful to buy a proper product (organic, etc.).
2) Creating the Compost:
A) Place several small twigs in the bottom of your chosen structure. This provides air pockets at the bottom for proper decomposition.
B) Add a layer of soil, about 8-10 inches deep.
C) Cover the soil with 4-6 inches of manure. Use whatever type of livestock manure is available to you, but make sure it is from a good organic source. Do NOT use dog or cat manure. The more aged the manure, the faster it will compost.
D) Add additional items such as:
E) Do NOT add the following items to your compost:
*excessive dairy products (a little bit is okay)
*trimmings from diseased plants
F) Add a 6 inch layer of soil and a 2-4 inch layer of manure every 24 inches to ensure a healthy compost. It should look like this:
3) Activating the Compost:
*To help speed up the process, you can activate your compost in the following ways:
A) You can buy compost activator products from garden shops.
B) Make your own activator:
Make a compost tea and add to your compost once every 3 months. Wear gloves while doing this. Also, this recipe makes enough for a 64 cubic foot compost pile.
*6 cups dried or 12 cups fresh nettles
*6 cups dried or 12 cups fresh comfrey leaves
*2 cups flaked or powdered kelp
*1 cup liquid fish emulsion
Put all ingredients into a 5 gallon bucket and fill the bucket with water. Allow the mixture to sit in a warm place for 4-8 hours. Pour all contents of buck into the compost pile.
4) Working the Compost:
A) Turning the compost:
*Turn your compost once a month in warm and hot weather. In colder months, turning is less crucial. Turn with a shovel or a garden fork. The goal is to flip the pile. As you turn the pile, you may find a small amount of rich, dark brown soil at the bottom. This pile of compost is ready to use but may also be mixed into the pile for later use.
B) Water the compost:
*This is an important part of the compost's quality. The compost should stay evenly moist, NOT soaking wet or dried out. Simply water with a hose as evenly as possible.
5) Using Your Compost:
*Once the material is ready for use, apply 1-3 inches to the top of your garden soil. Work it into the soil until it is well mixed. It is ideal to add the compost in the spring, but you can really add it at any time. After mixing it into the soil, water the garden thoroughly.
Enjoy the healthy plants that this compost will surely help you get! :)
For additional information, see: references and warnings