Compost turns organic matter that generally goes to waste, such as yard clippings and leftover food, into a mulch-like soil enhancer. Unlike many store-bought fertilizers, completely organic compost adds no unnatural chemicals to your garden, which leaves you with organic soil that produces a garden full of organically-grown plants. Adding wood ash to the pile raises the alkalinity of the compost, according to the University of Minnesota, which neutralizes oil that is highly acidic.
Build a compost bin if you want your compost contained. A compost bin can be built out of any type of wood and wire fencing, but should use wood and other materials that won’t rot or decay. If you prefer not to build, your compost can just be started in a pile on the ground. Whether your choose a bin or a pile, keep your compost somewhere in your yard where it gets partial sunlight, but not direct sunlight, and where the wind won’t blow it away.
Layer 8 to 10 inches of grass, fallen leaves or straw on the ground or in the bottom of the bin. Water the layer to moisten it.
Add layers to the compost pile, one at a time, and water lightly between each layer to make sure all of the ingredients of the compost pile are moistened. Organic items that can be added to a compost pile include peelings from fruits and vegetables, coffee grounds, mowed grass, raked leaves and shredded newspapers.
Work wood ash into the compost only every foot or so of the pile, and use only a small amount. One cup of wood ash is generally sufficient for an entire 5 to 6-foot compost pile.
Rake the entire compost pile out of the bin, or turn the entire pile out, one layer at a time every three to four weeks. Then, return the compost to the bin or pile. This lets air in and helps speed up the compost process.