Composting involves controlling and accelerating the natural decay process to turn yard and plant waste into a valuable soil amendment. Compost added to the garden improves soil structure and soil fertility as well as water holding capacity. There is no one right way to create a compost pile, but rather several effective methods for developing one. Often, a compost pile is built in layers to ensure the appropriate balance between carbon and nitrogen, but the layers are mixed after the pile is built.
Create a 2-inch layer of brush 10 by 10 feet to serve as the base of the pile. Place a 6-inch layer of dry material on top of the brush. Add a 2-inch layer of wet material and then sprinkle ¼ inch of soil or finished compost on top.
Layer dry material, wet material and soil until the pile is at least 4 feet high, but not more than 6 feet high.
Turn and mix the pile contents every six weeks until the compost is finished. Begin by placing a layer of brush where you plan to move the pile. Then use the pitchfork to move the compost to the new pile location. Try to get the material that was previously on the edges near the middle of the pile, where the most intense composting action takes place.
Squeeze a handful of the composting material to check the moisture. If you can just squeeze out a drop of water, the pile has the correct amount of moisture. If several drops of water come out, mix in some additional dry material. If no water can be squeezed out, sprinkle the pile with water until you achieve the correct moisture level.
Apply the compost for a soil amendment or mulch after two to four months, when it has become a rich, dark brown, crumbly humus.