Composting can be accomplished one of two ways: cold processing compost and hot processing compost. A good example of cold processing compost occurs on the forest floor as dead leaves and branches slowly decay. Gardeners who want faster results often use the compost pile to hot compost their organic scraps. Hot composting encourages heat-loving microbes and bacteria to break down the compost materials faster, while at the same time killing disease and seeds that are inside the compost. The key to hot compost is to spend more time with your compost pile.
Wait until spring to begin your compost pile. Hot process compost is best done in the growing season to encourage the microbes in the compost pile to thrive.
Chop your grass clippings, hay, straw, dead leaves, pine needles and other outdoor materials with a lawn mower so that each piece is no more than 1 inch long.
Cut your kitchen scraps into 1-inch pieces with a food processor.
Layer your carbon-rich brown materials (sawdust, dead leaves, hay, straw, pine needles) and your nitrogen-rich green materials (vegetable and fruit scraps, grass clippings, manure, peat moss) in your compost bin in equal ratios. For best heating, make your pile approximately 5 feet deep, 5 feet wide and 5 feet tall.
Soak your compost with a garden hose until the entire pile is damp. Never saturate your pile.
Check the internal temperature of the compost daily with a compost thermometer. Begin to turn the pile when it reaches between 130 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
Turn the pile so that the contents on the inside are on the outside and vice versa. Break up any large clumps of organic material.