Thinking Ahead: Start a Compost Pile Now

Smart gardeners can emulate farmers by thinking several seasons ahead. With fall upon us, leaves plentiful in many of our yards, and creating a compost pile is easy to do. More importantly, it’s something your garden will love come spring!

Here’s what you need to have to get started:

1. A plot of ground at about 4 feet by 4 feet. You need enough space for the pile to develop its own heat and break down the materials over time. A separate canister is not necessary.

2. Dried leaves. Chop them up with a lawnmower first and be sure you have most of the larger twigs or other materials out of the pile. If you don’t have enough leaves from your own yard, you can use straw or even shredded newspaper.

3. Organic material such as livestock manure. You can get this at your local farm supply store or garden center. You can also add in your own other organic materials, such as: fruit and vegetable peels or scraps, used coffee grounds and filters, and eggshells.

Now you’re ready. Mix together about 30-parts leaves with 1-part of the organic material, alternating in layers on your compost pile.

As you build the pile wet it with the garden hose so that the texture of the mixture is about the consistency of a damp sponge.

You will have to turn the pile in three weeks time. This makes for a great outdoor workout on a cool fall day, and provides the aeration for the compost. Wait 3 more weeks and then turn the pile over again.

Before you have a first hard freeze, cover the pile with a thick layer of straw or an old tarp, weighted with stones or bricks.

Then when spring comes, you’ll have your own compost made from the decomposed material ready to add to your vegetable or flower gardens. Feeding your plants with natural compost is easy to do, saves money and gives you a head start on your planting season. Posted by Jean Widner.