Tuesday, May 8, 2012

What I've Learned About Compost

I did so much research about compost before I started my own, but just like everything else, until you do it yourself, you don't really understand it.  I decided to just go with a compost pile for now.  I basically add things to the compost pile from my kitchen or the yard and use the hoe to mix it up every few days.  I have already gotten a good bit of lovely black dirt from it, but I know I can do better and get even more if I stay on it better.

These are the things that I have learned about compost:

1.  The compost heap LOVES variety!  My pile seems to do the best when it has all kinds of different stuff in it.  I add veggie skins or veggies that have passed the point of edible stage from my fridge.  I also add the weeds from my garden, sticks that fall in the yard broken into pieces,  pecan shells, egg shells.  When I go for walks with my husband in the woods checking his deer cameras and stands, I sometimes bring a bucket along and collect pine needles and other random things to put in it that it doesn't get from my yard.  My husband shoveled a bucket of cow manure to go in my garden and the leftover went in my compost pile.

2.  Composting makes weeding fun!  Weeding probably has been one of my biggest downfalls as to why I have not had gardening success in previous years.  I just don't want to do it and then the weeds take over and kill my plants.  Well this past year, I was actually excited to weed because I knew that bucket of weeds was going in the compost pile, which would help me in the long run.

3.  Stir up that pile!  Sometimes I have gone a week or two without stirring the compost pile and what did it get me? Nothing!  The compost process does not work if everything does not get some air, that is why turning that pile is so important.  You will notice how much better and quicker your pile works when you stir it a few times a week.

4.  Aim that hose towards the pile while you are watering all your other plants.  It takes maybe a minute.  Keeping the pile moist is also vital to the process.  Water, air and ingredients, the three main things needed.  Sometimes when it rains though, I don't have to add water for a week or so.  You can tell by looking at it whether it's drying out or not, just use your best judgment.

5.  The compost pile does NOT stink! The only time I smell it is when I am turning it or when I am getting dirt out and even then, it is just an earthy dirt smell.  I was kind of worried starting out that it would stink even though everything I have read says they don't.  I mean, how can decomposing food not stink?? But as long as you don't add dairy products, meat or onions, it should be fine.

6.  Animals don't really mess with your compost.  I was so worried that I would be chasing neighborhood dogs off all the time or that possoms or something would be digging up my pile and I would get nowhere.  Well dogs don't really care about vegetables, especially decomposing ones! And I have noticed no other signs of anything going through it.  Just make sure when you add fresh scraps to it, you stir the pile and make sure some of the dirt is on top.  The most animal contact I have had with the pile is when we were adding celery to it and some cows were sticking their heads over the fence wanting to be fed the celery :)

7.  Make sure you add "brown" items to your pile too.  These are dead foilage such as leaves, sticks, pine needles, etc.  When I add a good bit of fresh, I make sure I rake up some leaves into the pile or break up some small sticks that are lying around.  I'm going to try some ashes as soon as my husband burns the limbs that are on top of our burn pile.

8.  Compost is EASY!  One of my concerns was that I was going to have to spend a lot of time on my pile, and who has any extra time on their hands? Not me!  Really a couple minutes every few days to add things, stir it up and water it is no big deal.

So that is mainly it.  I have learned so much just by jumping in and trying it out.  I hope this maybe helps someone that is thinking about trying compost.  There is no better feeling than taking a shovel and getting some dirt out of a compost pile knowing that it is the best product money can't buy and you did it yourself :)

This post is a part of My Simple Country Living's Country Garden Showcase 
Homestead Revival's Barn Hop


  1. We have a little compost pile at the end of the garden. We feed kitchen scraps to the chickens and pig, so we don't have much for the compost, except the manure from the pigpen and hen house.

    We did have a bigger compost pile in town when we didn't have chickens. It was such nice dirt to use.

    I have to admit we don't put weeds in from our garden. Our garden is generally about 1/2 acre, so we just hoe them and leave them in the garden. This year it is an acre as our daughter is growing corn to sell.

    Have a wonderful day.


    1. Cheryl, I bet when our chickens get bigger, I won't have as much to put in there from the kitchen. I also just hoe the garden up sometimes, but I can't help but at least pull a few weeds out to stick in the composter :) Thanks for stopping by.

  2. I love this! I am new to composting and so far I am enjoying it. These tips are great...I do put my garden weeds in my pile as well as my pulp from my juicer, among a variety of things! One thing I seldom do is "water" it. I'll be using this list as a reminder!
    Would you consider sharing this on my link-up today? It fits wonderfully and I think my readers would enjoy it! Thanks!

    1. Thanks for stopping by and I added to your link up!

      Yes, watering is probably the thing I forget to do the most. Thank goodness for rain every now and then, but the pile loves to be watered!

    2. Thanks for linking up! I featured this post on this week's Living Green Link-up!

  3. I have GOT to find a place in the yard where I can have a compost pile without the HOA seeing it. It's so beneficial to the garden! Thanks for the tips.

  4. I have to get better at using our compost bin. It's one of my summer gardening goals. Thanks for putting it back on my radar! I am stopping by from the Morris Tribe blog hop. Have a great rest of the week!

  5. I'm just stopping by to invite you to our new DIYlinky over at www.littlehouseinthesuburbs.com tomorrow morning. Please come? Sad to have a party with no guests...