Building and Managing a Compost Pile

Compost Pile and How it works

Before building a compost pile you need to understand how the microbes work. Microbes are very similar to humans as far as their physical needs. They need food, air, and water to live. The microbes break down the compost pile down until it is the right texture to use it on the garden and your plants.

There are many different ways to build a compost pile the one that is probably the best known is the layering method. One layer of brown then a layer of green, then repeat these two layers until you have your area filled but not over stuffed. The recommended height for this method is no less than 3 ½ feet and no more than about 5 to 6 feet. Each layer should be about 3 to 4 inches of material.


Thin layers are better than too thick ones at preventing odors. The microbes can also travel between layers better this way too. Each layer need to be watered as you place it in the pile to ensure even moisture. The top layer of the pile should be a brown layer. This helps to process any odors as they are trying to escape.


This type of setup has to be turned on a regular basis though to make sure it decomposing all at the same rate. If you don't have the time to commit to this then there are other methods. You can use the method of mixing both browns and greens together.

With this method you do not have to turn the pile. You mix the greens and the browns together in 4-inch stages. Water each stage as you add it. This is really the only way to make sure it has the right amount of water. In this method the layers do not packed down like they do in the layering method. Oxygen can get to all the materials easily.



Whichever of these methods that you use, new material can be added from time to time. If you are turning the pile add the new material at that time. If you are using the mixed-up method then you need to bury the new material into the pile. With both methods you will need to stop adding new material at some point and start a new pile so that the original pile can cure to the point of being finished.


On top of these methods mentioned here there are also composting bins that you can even have in your kitchen. You still layer or mix the material leaving room for enough air to circulate. Make sure the compost has enough moisture and is turned or mixed on a regular basis. This system is good if you are only making a small amount of compost.


Now you know what it takes to build and maintain a compost pile. So pick out a location in the backyard today for you pile. It should be someplace convenient for you to get water to and away from the neighbors in case there is any odor from it. You would not want the neighbors complaining about it. It will take a few months usually to have compost ready for the garden.





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