Compost is made of decomposed organic matter such as leaves, manure, grass clippings, garden waste, and kitchen scraps. It serves as a soil conditioner by suppressing diseases, aiding in microbial activity, attracting beneficial insects, and holding nutrients for slow release. There are different methods of composting and any of them are good to use. Here is one way to make compost in as little as 14 days.
You will need:
Step 1: A good location for the compost pile. It should be within a warm area that is protected from an excessive amount of direct sunlight and wind. Place the pile away from an area that will offend neighbors.
Step 2: Build an enclosure to prevent litter and save space. It should have dimensions of at least four feet in length, width, and height and have a large entry so the pile can be turned. It should not be any taller than six feet because this excess weight will cause a loss of oxygen. Construct the enclosure from snow fencing, pallets, wood, cinder blocks, hay bales, or chicken wire and stakes. Premanufactured compost bins are sold in some hardware, home improvement, or online stores.
Step 3: Shred yard waste if possible. This makes it decay faster.
Step 4: Fill the compost area with a minimum of 34 cubic feet of shredded organic waste like leaves, plant stalks, grass clippings, vines, twigs, weeds, branches, and straw. Include only a limited amount of plants that have been treated with pesticides or herbicides because the chemicals take longer to decompose. Other items like feathers, livestock manure, hair clippings, blood meal, and bone meal can also be included. If kitchen scraps will be added to the pile, include eggshells, coffee grounds, nutshells, and fruit and vegetable scraps. Anything that will attract pests, cause odors, or promote disease should not be included.
Step 4: Keep the materials in the pile moist to the level of a squeezed sponge. The pile can be covered with black plastic to reduce the need for watering.
Step 5: Every three days to six weeks, turn and mix the pile using a shovel or pitchfork. This provides oxygen to the pile, which is required for decomposition. Turning on a frequent basis causes speedier composting. If the pile develops an odor, it either lacks oxygen or is too damp so it should be turned more frequently.
Step 6: If fresh materials must be added to an existing pile, bury them inside the pile to speed composting. It is recommended that fresh materials be added to a new pile.