Information About Compost Piles

Overview

Home composting is a practical and efficient way to dispose of kitchen and garden debris. Properly prepared compost supplies nutrients to your plants and improves garden health and soil structure.

Keep kitchen and garden wastes out of landfills with a home compost pile. image by Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Diana House

Size

Compost piles should be at least three feet square. Smaller piles may not heat up enough to kill weed seeds and soil pathogens.

Moisture

Compost piles need water. The moisture content should be equivalent to a wrung-out sponge. During dry spells, cover open compost piles to retain water.

Ventilation

The beneficial organisms in your compost pile need air to do their work. Turn or fluff the pile with a garden fork every week.

Materials

Compost materials are often referred to as "green" and "brown," and both varieties are needed for decomposition. Green materials, like grass clipping and vegetable peelings, add nitrogen; brown materials, like dried leaves and hay, provide carbon.

Odors

Compost piles should not smell bad. If the pile is poorly ventilated or too wet, it may smell. Turn the pile to add air or add some dried materials like hay or straw to dry things out.

Pests

Do not add meat or fish scraps to your pile--this may attract rodents. To reduce fruit fly populations, add some topsoil or peat moss and bury fruit and vegetable scraps a few inches under the surface.

References

  • California Integrated Waste Management: Home Composting
Keywords: compost pile, beneficial organisms, home composting

About this Author

Moira Clune is a freelance writer who since 1991 has been writing sales and promotional materials for her own and other small businesses. In addition, she has published articles on VetInfo and various other websites. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Hartwick College.