How to build a compost pile, the easy way.
Making your own compost pile is one of the most cost effective ways to build your soil to grow your own food. The thought of composting can feel so overwhelming for most of us. But when something is new to us it can always feel overwhelming until you try it and realize just how easy the whole process is. Same goes with composting. There are so many different methods to building a compost pile, some methods are a longer process, some are quick.
For the sake of everyone’s time, let’s discuss the quick version shall we. But first let’s dive into some of the basics about composting.
What is compost?
Composting is a way of recycling organic matter such as kitchen scraps, coffee grounds and leaves using an aerobic environment, which means the presence of oxygen is needed to thrive. Compost is used to fertilize plants and brings much needed good bacteria back to the soil.
What do you do with it?
Compost is made up of two parts, nitrogen and carbon. The ratio between these two elements really make a difference wth the way your compost will react. Most times when you set out to build a compost pile you think of this big pile of steamy beautiful goodness. But in reality you are wondering what in the world you did wrong. Don’t worry, we will talk about a sure way to get that steamy pile of goodness. There are a few methods to composting. I am going to talk about one here but first let’s find out what we can put in compost shall we.
What the F goes in compost?
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Avocado peels and seed
Fruit (All except citrus fruits)
…I mean the list can really go on.
Here is what NOT to put in your compost:
Dairy (besides the egg shells)
Citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, limes….) (Citrus fruits can actually kill off the good bacteria that helps break down the compost.)
Can moldy foods go in the compost bin?
That is what the food is going to be doing anyhow so throw it on in there yo!
But what about the flies?
One trick you can use is throw some shredded paper on top. Or lay some newspaper on top of each layer. This will not only keep the fly issue down but also the smell.
So, let’s move on to how we actually make this beautiful stuff for our garden. I am going to talk about, “Quick Method Composting” Are you ready?
Quick Method Composting
With this method we are going to make a mixture called Drunken Compost! Why is it called that? Because it’s fun, thats why!
First thing is first, find yourself a pile of compost. Preferably a 3 foot high pile. If you are impatient like we are, gather yourself up some leaves and some coffee grounds. This is really the basics of what you need. Now I am sure you may be thinking to yourself, “where do I find that many leaves and that much coffee grounds?” Well, start a raking yo! Rake your yard, rake your neighbors yard, rake the whole damn neighborhood. Don’t shake your head and giggle, this is how we acquired ours. My husband, after working his buns off all day, goes around the neighborhood and gathered us up some leaves. Hey man, if you want it, you find a way.
Coffee grounds, seriously, any coffee shop should be cool enough to save their grounds for you to pick up at the end of the day. Just give them a call the day before or that morning. Make sure you give them plenty of time to gather some up. They won’t just have a plethora for you at a moments notice. Now on to the mixture.
Drunken Compost Mixture:
1 12oz can coca cola (yes that is right coca cola, the kind you drink)
1 12oz can beer ( and you are right again my friend, BEER)
Sprayer We use this sprayer
What!?! Are you serious?
Yes, yes I am. Let’s break each of these ingredients down shall we.
Coca Cola: The sugar in the soda will attract much needed micro- organisms that help break down the materials in the compost. The acidity in the soda helps with this process as well.
Ammonia: Is a super high in nitrogen. Nitrogen is what helps heat up the carbon material within the compost pile. So this is where your heat will come from.
Beer: The yeast in beer helps to break down organic materials, particularly wood materials.
On with the mixture…
Mix this weird concoction in a sprayer. You do not want to just dump the ingredients listed above on your compost, you want a spray of evenly mixed ingredients.
Once you have your pile and you mixture made, start spraying your pile with the drunken mixture as you turn your compost. What does turning your compost mean?
Turning means you are going to use a shovel or a pitchfork and shovel your compost into a new pile. You want to start with the outsides of your compost, that way they are now on the inside of your new pile. You want each part of your compost to experience the warmth that is being created so that it breaks down properly. With composting you want to make sure you have enough room for two piles. Throughout this process you will be moving your pile back and forth.
Now leave it to sit for four days.
After four days you are going to make this mixture again and turn your pile once more, spraying each turn with the mixture. Now let it sit for two days.
After two days make your mixture, turn your compost and spray each layer.
Repeat every two days for a total of 20 days.
This spray is considered nitrogen. While you turn your pile, you have to add a nitrogenous material in between. This is what keeps it hot. And heat is what you need to create good pile of compost. If you would like a ratio, which many of us need. You need 80:20 ratio carbon to nitrogen. To put things into perspective, the leaves are carbon and the coffee grounds are nitrogen. Newspaper is carbon. Kitchen scraps are nitrogen.
As you turn your compost and as you get closer to 20 days, your pile will begin to steam. And BAM son, you just made yourself a pile of steamy goodness that all your plants are going to thrive with.
A little note before we go…
Sometimes your pile is not broken down 100%. It’s cool yo, just sift it out over a wheelbarrow or bucket before you use it and throw the chunks back into a new compost pile to further decompose.
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