How to build a compost pile

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Dark, rich compost helps all plants thrive
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Learn how to build a compost pile for robust, healthy vegetables and flowers

Compost… Liquid Gold For Your Garden

If you are thinking about starting your own compost pile think about this … With just a little knowledge you can turn your everyday garbage into nutrient-rich fertilizer for your yard or garden and the best part is…it’s organic.

Let’s start with your container…you can buy or build something to house your compost pile. A wooden frame (like a sandbox) made out of 2x10’s (or what ever) in the corner of our yard will work great. Add your scraps to it on a daily basis and “stir” or “fluff” it up 2 to 3 times a week. Many materials can be added to a compost pile, including leaves, grass clippings, straw, woody brush, vegetable and fruit scraps, coffee grounds, livestock manure, sawdust, egg shells even shredded paper. (hey paper is made out of wood right?)

Note: Adding kitchen scrapes to compost may attract flies and insects. To prevent this problem, make a hole in the center of your pile and bury the waste. Do not compost meat scraps, dead animals, pet manure, diseased plant material, or noxious weeds.

Find great composting tips here.

Like all living things, your compost pile needs three things to be successful ... Air, Food and Water. These three things provide the perfect conditions to maintain a healthy balance for the living microbes that break it down. A mixture of greens (such as table scrapes, grass clippings, etc) these are the “foods”. Browns (such as straw, woody brush, sawdust, etc.) help keep it aerated.

Microbes like a moisture level of a wrung out sponge. Too wet and your microbes can’t breath and your compost pile will smell (like rotting garbage) because they can’t do their job. If it’s too dry it will slow down the decomposition of your compost pile.

Your finished compost will be dark in color and will have an earthy smell (like the smell of soil).

Usually, it's difficult to recognize any of the original ingredients, although bits of hard-to-decompose materials (such as straw) sometimes can be seen.

Why Is Compost Like Gold?

The key to those gorgeous tomato plants, covered in tempting red tomatoes, may just be perfectly composted soil.

Compost does several things to benefit the soil that artificial or synthetic fertilizers cannot do. The organic matter in compost helps the way water interacts with the soil. In sandy soils, compost acts as a sponge to help the soil retain water (in this way, it protects plants against drought). In clay soils, compost helps to aerate and add porosity to the soil, making it drain more quickly so that it doesn't stay waterlogged.

Compost also inoculates the soil with beneficial microbes (bacteria, fungi, etc.) These microbes are able to extract nutrients from the mineral part of the soil and eventually pass these rich nutrients on to your plants. And healthy soil means a healthy yard or garden.

You can say that composting is nature’s way of recycling garbage into gold.

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