Starting a Compost Pile or Worm Bin

Follow these steps and you'll discover starting a compost pile, with or without worms, is a pretty straightforward proposition.


| October/November 2006



starting a compost pile - log compost bin

A log bin isn't strictly necessary when starting a compost pile, but it will allow for air circulation.


Photo by Judy White/Gardenphotos.com

Compost helps plants grow better by improving the soil’s structure and water-holding capacity, and by increasing the supply of nutrients the soil provides for your plants. Regular applications of compost also help prevent plant diseases by making your plants healthier.

Starting a Compost Pile

1. Set a commercial or homemade composter on the ground in an easily accessible place. For a simple and inexpensive open bin, make a circle about 3 or 4 feet in diameter out of 3-to-4-foot-high welded wire or plastic garden fencing.

2. Add ingredients. Place a 4 inch layer of stemmy plants, sticks, or other coarse material in the bottom of the bin. As they become available, add kitchen wastes, dead plants, grass clippings and chopped leaves to the bin. Add water as often as needed to keep the material moist but not soggy (like a wrung-out sponge).

3. Turning the pile is helpful but optional. If you choose to turn, lift off the composter or bin and set it next to the pile. Then use a pitchfork to move the pile back into the composter.

4. The compost is ready to use when you can no longer recognize the original ingredients. Until you use it in your garden, keep your finished compost covered to prevent rain from leaching out nutrients.

Good Compost Ingredients:
Leaves, hay and other dead plant material
Fruit and vegetable trimmings
Herbicide-free grass clippings
Manure from horses, cattle, goats, poultry and rabbits
Paper or cardboard, torn into strips or hand-sized pieces 





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