Making Compost Happen


Making compost is a year-round job here.  I start a new pile every year on the first day of fall, adding to it (and turning it regularly) until the following fall.  The next spring I start using it on the gardens.  Usually it’s all gone by fall, making it a two-year process.

So we always have one pile to which we’re still adding material, and one to which we’ve stopped adding anything.

We don’t use any formula for our compost.  We empty all of our compostable kitchen scraps into the pile year round (less anything the pigs or chickens will eat and the coffee grounds and tea leaves, which the worms get).  In the spring I clean the animal bedding out of all the stalls and sheds and that gets added.  During the summer we add weeds, grass clippings, and garden waste.  In the fall we add leaves.  Whenever I clean a  fish or chicken, they are added to the pile as well.  And anything else that will decompose in a year will also go into the pile.  I have no idea how our mixture compares to the recommended recipes, but it works for us.

Yesterday I took advantage of a break in the weather to clean the gutters–great stuff for compost.  I also raked up a truck load of leaves for the pile.  Adding to the compost pile is a job that’s never finished.

10 comments on “Making Compost Happen

  1. shoreacres says:

    The parallels between your composting and the way I accumulate and use materials for my writing is remarkable. Let’s see…

    “Compost” – ” from Vulgar Latin composita, noun use of fem. of Latin compositus, past participle of componere “to put together” (see composite).

    “Compose” – “c.1400, compousen, from Old French composer “put together, arrange, write” a work (12c.), from com- “with” (see com-) + poser “to place,” from Late Latin pausare,/i> “to cease, lay down,” ultimately from Latin ponere “to put, place” (see position (n.)). Meaning influenced in Old French by componere.”

    Etymology rocks!


  2. Bill, that’s pretty much how I compost as well. The Terra Nova Gardens compost pile is the garden waste of the year. Half eaten produce and all of the vine clean up from the garden in the fall. The next spring a new pile is started and the old pile is left to rest another year. At my residence (Urban Ranch) I have big barrel tumbler for composting faster that I use all during the spring planting time. It was a donation from a friend of mine and a great addition to the garden. The last few cuttings of grass (chemical free) that are mixed with fallen leaves are piled high in the fall by the barrel composter. The composting process is started over the winter months and by spring is well on the way to become rich garden supplement. The tumbler is used to finish off the half started compost faster. It’s then dug into the four garden beds at the Urban Ranch before planting.

    Have a great composting day.


    • Bill says:

      We have a tumbler but don’t use it much these days (because of the amount of compost we’re making). They’re great however and make the job much faster.
      When I first started making compost I’d water it and be more careful about my mixtures. These days I don’t bother with that. It takes a lot longer to make, but is a lot less trouble.


  3. Lynda says:

    I also have two stacks here. They are composed mostly of leaves and bedding straw. They take a lot longer to break down, but eventually the do!


  4. Composting-themed wisdom here by one John Reid. 1600s:

    “Horse manure is for stiff and cold ground; sheeps for hot and dry; ashes for cold, stiff and moist; old woolen rags for poor and dry; lyme is most excellent for moorish and heathy land; hair of beasts for dry and stiff ground; pigeons and poultrie-manure for cold and moist; rotten saw dust for dry; rubbish of buildings for stiff cold grounds; salt for cold and moist but use it moderately, for it destroys vegetables on dry ground, especially at first, but when melte by winter rains, it fertilizeth.”


    • Bill says:

      Good stuff. I saw a movie once that was set in Ireland, probably in the 18th Century. The farmer in the film took an ox drawn cart down to the beach and forked up seaweed left behind during low tide, then carried it back and spread it on his field. I envied his seaweed.


  5. we have a “huge” composting in the corner of our suburban lot for just about three decades. Each time my pile’s earthworms wave “thank you.” Too bad with our proximity to the U.S. Congress that we cannot use the bulk of that bovine defecation in ours.


    • Bill says:

      If all that figurative manure could somehow be made literal, it might be enough to fertilize the nation’s gardens. Unfortunately their kind doesn’t fertilize, it only pollutes.


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