Add compost to your soil as often as you can. A 1/2″” layer added each year is typical.
Use a typical compost bin that creates a high-heat situation and converts the material quickly. Most of nutrient value is lost. A good set of plans for one type is located here.
(from Gardening When It Counts) Build one compost heap a year in early fall. Accumulate all vegetative wastes and kitchen garbage into one big stack and let it dry out throughout the year.
- Keep average C/N below 25:1.
- Create a layer of ‘dry stuff’ about 8 inches thick and no wider than 7′.
- Cover with 1/2 of soil. (the soil absorbs gases and converts them into nutrients, and also regulates the temperature of the pile)
- Cover with ‘strong stuff’ (dried poultry manure, fresh cow or horse manure (without bedding material), or seedmeal.
- Water the layer throughly.
- Repeat and taper as you go up in height. Try to plan the size of your heap so that the height is between 4′ and 5′ high.
- Cover the whole heap with another layer of soil.
- Within 5 weeks, turn the pile, placing the material that was on the outside on the inside. Remoisten when you turn.
- After three turns, your compost is probably done.
- Loosen the soil 12″” deep w/ spading fork where the pile will be located.
- Lay down roughage (brush or woody material) 3″” thick for air circulation
- Put down 2″” of mature material -dry leaves, weeds, straw, dry grass clippings, hay, old garden waste. Water it thoroughly.
- Put down 2″” of immature material and kitchen wastes – fresh weeds, clippings, trimmings, green cover crops. Water
- Cover w/ 1/4 to 1/2″” of soil. Moisten.
- Add additional layers until the pile is 3 to 4′ high.
- Cover the pile with 1/2 to 1″” of soil.
- Water the completed pile regularly until it is ready for use.
- Let the completed pile cure 3 to 6 months while you are building a new pile.
Compost Technique from my PDC
Dick Pierce taught me the following in his class:
- he prefers a 1:1 ratio of green:brown material in the compost pile
- says a 1:2 ratio of green:brown is more normal
- does not like to put soil in the compost pile
- builds on a pallet, to allow airflow under pile
- alternates layers of green and brown
- fluffs and mixes every 2 layers
- adds cottonseed meal
- lots of water, until wet sponge feel
- covers with 1″” layer of grass clippings for ‘insulation blanket’, to keep sun off of pile, and keep moisture in.
- turns compost 14 times – can be each day or each week
- says slow compost is created more by fungus, and best suited for forest plants
- says fast compost is created by microbes, and best suited for annuals
- says the reason domesticated pet waste should not be used is because human pathogyns might be present
If you keep your walkways mulched with 4 to 6″” of wood mulch (native tree waste is perfect, and usually available for free from tree trimming companies) you will automatically build compost with zero effort. Every 5 years or so, just rake up the remaining wood pieces, sift out your nice compost, and add more wood mulch to the walkways.