March 13th

AvatarBy Mutt Mulligan

How to Start a Compost Pile

If you don’t already have a compost pile now is a great time to start one so you can feed your summer vegetable and flower gardens in a “green” way.

Composting is a great family activitiy.

Photo courtesy of Denver Urban Gardens.

Why composting? It helps increase water retention, decrease soil erosion and replace chemical fertilizers. Make it a family event so your kids can learn all kinds of great science lessons while helping the Earth – and have lots of fun in the process!

Here are four steps to help get you started. For a more in-depth look at composting read this article from the University of Illinois Extension.

  • Select your space. You can use a compost bin to keep your pile neat, but you don’t need one. You simply need a pile that is at least 3x3x3 feet so that it has enough mass to decompose without a bin.
  • Collect your materials. You’ll need carbon-rich “brown materials” (fall leaves, dead flowers, shredded newspaper), nitrogen-rich “green materials” (grass, veggie & fruit peels) and soil.
  • Create your pile. Layer the materials starting with brown, then green and finally soil. Continue layering the pile with all of your materials (the goal is to make it three-feet high), then moisten with water.
  • Manage your pile. Use a shovel or garden fork to turn the pile every couple of weeks. Move the matter at the center to the outside and shift the outside materials toward the center. Keep the pile moist but not soggy.