Compost is an excellent source of organic material that will greatly benefit the health of your garden. It improves soil structure, it’s a great source of cheap mulch, and it even helps prevent some plant diseases. Follow these easy steps to making your own “garden gold.”
- Relax. No matter what you do (or don’t do), organic materials will eventually decompose into a crumbly, rich, soil-like substance. Without your help, the process will take about three months to two years. With your help, the process is much faster.
- Make a pile. Start your compost pile in a back corner of your yard―or in a bin, if you’d like it enclosed. To create your own bin, drill several holes into the sides of a 32-gallon plastic lidded trashcan (the holes let air inside for faster composting).
- Add to it. Pile on layers of grass clippings, leaves, garden trimmings and kitchen scraps (such as veggies, eggshells and coffee grinds) to keep it decomposing properly. Avoid using meat, dairy, oils, pet waste and diseased plants in your compost pile.
- Cover it. Keep your pile covered with a tarp or other plastic to generate heat and hold in moisture―the keys to quick compost.
- Turn it. If you want to speed the process along, flip the material close to once a week with a rake or pitchfork. This distributes the moisture and microbes while adding air, which the microbes need to do their work.
- Use it. It doesn’t matter whether you wait until your compost is finely textured or you use it when it’s still chunky. In fact, lumpy compost makes good mulch, because it keeps the bugs and microorganisms busy releasing nutrients into your soil. That makes your plants happy!