How to Compost Properly

Overview

Composting is the process of creating a rich, black soil through the decomposition of plant and waste materials. Decomposed organic material makes a fine humus, organic matter that has stopped decomposing, which is added to your garden to improve soil structure, water retention and add nutrients that plants use to grow. Although composting is possible in an open air pile, putting an enclosure around the pile prevents animals and pests from destroying your work, and utilizes the best space possible.

Step 1

Choose a location for the pile that is level, has good drainage, is shaded and has good wind coverage, according to the University of Illinois Extension.

Step 2

Remove grass and debris from the pile location.

Step 3

Choose a container that has side ventilation recommends the University of Missouri Extension, such as a wire bin wrapped in weed barrier plastic, and place it in your desired location.

Step 4

Add a layer of 3 to 4 inches chopped brush or other coarse material at the bottom of the pile to aid in air circulation, according to the Ohio State University Extension. Place a 6- to 8-inch layer of leaves, grass clippings and garden waste and moisten it lightly. Add a 1-inch layer of soil on top. Spread a 2- to 3-inch layer of manure to finish the pile. Continue layering in this order to add to the pile.

Step 5

Observe the pile after 4 to 5 days to check if it is settling in the middle. This means the pile has reached the correct temperature.

Step 6

Turn your pile using a spade or pitchfork every four to five weeks to aid in air circulation. Add water to the pile to keep it moist. Add more material if you wish. The pile will be usable after three to four months.

Things You'll Need

  • Enclosure
  • Chopped brush
  • Leaves
  • Grass clippings
  • Garden waste
  • Soil
  • Manure
  • Kitchen scraps
  • Pitchfork

References

  • University of Illinois Extension: Building your Compost Pile
  • University of Missouri Extension: Making and Using Compost
  • Ohio State University Extension: Composting at Home
Keywords: compost pile, home composting, how-to compost

About this Author

Cleveland Van Cecil is a freelancer writer specializing in technology. He has been a freelance writer for three years and has published extensively on eHow.com, writing articles on subjects as diverse as boat motors and hydroponic gardening. Van Cecil has a Bachelor of Arts in liberal arts from Baldwin-Wallace College.