Whether your household produces a lot of organic waste or you simply want a constant supply of large quantities of compost for a huge vegetable garden, your main focus should be on proper containment for your compost. Dump multiple huge heaps of organic waste in your backyard to compost and you’re likely to get irate calls from your neighbors. Simple, inexpensive large-scale composting methods appropriate for use by gardeners, homeowners and small farmers include sheet composting and trench composting. Use trench composting for a lot of smelly compost waste, such as food scraps. Opt for sheet composting if your compost ingredients typically consist of yard or livestock waste.
Dig an 18-inch-wide trench at a well-draining composting location that gets several hours of daily sun. Aim for your compost trench to be approximately 12 inches deep. Make a single trench long enough to be able to contain all of your organic compost scraps or create several shorter trenches that are side by side.
Fill the bottom 6 inches of your trench with organic compost waste. Sprinkle the scraps evenly across the base of the trench, mixing moist, high-nitrogen waste (such as vegetable peels and fruit scraps) with dry, carbon-rich waste (such as dead leaves or stale bread) whenever possible.
Backfill the top 6 inches of your compost trench with the soil you excavated. Spread the soil loosely, then pack it down slightly to minimize your chances of having animal pests dig up your food waste. Dig the compost up or till it directly into the soil after leaving the waste to decompose completely, which should take no longer than one year, according to the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension.
Collect equal amounts of green yard and livestock waste (such as fresh grass clippings and weeds or cow manure) and brown scraps (such as dead leaves, straw and old hay). Shred large chunks of waste into smaller sections that are less than about 3 to 4 inches in diameter.
Mix the organic waste together thoroughly with a manure fork. Spread the composting materials across bare garden soil in a 2- to 6-inch layer, depending upon how much waste you have available. Cover existing turf or grass with a 4-sheet-thick layer of old newspaper if you’re creating a new planting area.
Leave the organic waste sitting directly on top of the ground for approximately six months, which provides enough time for the entire composting process, according to Elizabeth Stell, author of “Secrets to Great Soil.” Till the rich humus directly into your soil with a hoe or rototiller before planting.
Things You Will Need
- High-nitrogen organic waste
- High-carbon organic waste
- Manure fork
- Old newspaper (optional)
- Large-scale composting is best suited for locations with more land. Consider using a 3-bin compost unit if you don't have much land available for direct soil composting.