Are you wondering how to start a compost pile? Seems it should be easy just mix dirt with your vegetable scraps right?
If you have tried your hand at composting you know it’s not that easy.
It’s taken me a good few years to perfect it and now that I have I want to share what has worked for us.
This is our first year where we will have enough compost material to fill my entire 16 x 24 garden and more!
The 3 Easy Steps to Build a Compost Pile:
- Find a location
- Decide if you need to keep it enclosed or just fenced in
- Add material
Now let’s look into these three steps in more detail.
The first thing you want to do is find a location. The location needs to be a place that will get sun and water.
How to Build It
Start with a layer spread out several inches thick of coarse dry brown stuff. Straw has worked wonders for us. Before we were using straw leaves were the next best thing.
Your next layer needs to be green.
You will want to go between these two layers while adding a little bit of soil.
When I had my compost started in a rotating bin it really started to break down once I added to the soil.
If you are wanting to minimize fruit flies to your bin keep grass clippings or newspaper close by. When you add your fruits or veggies to the pile add some of the clippings to the top or newspaper.
Think 70% Browns and 30% greens.
What we have found to increase the breakdown of our compost pile is this one ingredient- chicken poop.
Until we had chicken poop our pile was doing okay but the amount never added up as quickly as it does now.
Location and Type
There are so many different types of containers you can use for composting. Of course, you can purchase bins too. It all depends on what you are looking for. I tried the barrel where you turn it and I liked that one better than when we drilled holes through a big black garbage can because I didn’t have to turn it.
Now that we are out in the country we just let our compost pile chill out next to the barn- uncovered. The chickens work it and we use the tractor to turn it. In the summer when I have more fruits and veggies to compost I add them into a small container out in the garage to break down faster for when I add to the pile outside.
What can you compost?
Here is a list:
- Fruit and vegetable scraps
- Coffee Grounds
- Egg Shells
- Cornstalks, corn cobs
- Hedge Clippings
- Hops (brewery waste)
- Weeds- if you don’t want seeds to spread don’t add
- Manure from herbivores (cow, horse, pig, sheep, chicken, rabbit)
- Pine needles and cones
- Tea Bags
What Can’t You Compost
- Cat liter
- Nonbiodegradable materials
- Toxic Material
Keep your compost pile moist. In the beginning, I had no idea you wanted it to stay moist. You want it to stay moist like a well wrung out sponge.
How long to Break Down?
A good rule of thumb is until it looks like dirt. You can use it in your garden when it is around 60-75% broken down.
Ours has been composting for about 4-6 months and is just dirt now. I will add that to my garden in the spring.
Does your Compost Bin have to be black?
I hear many others ask about the color of the bin. Black is common because it will keep your compost warmer thus breaking it down faster. Us Frugal farmers know that if we got our hands on a container that isn’t black it’s okay.
Many of us don’t compost in bins. Especially if you have chickens. You would need quite a large bin.
A container isn’t always necessary. It will depend on your location and surroundings.
Tip: If you have read through this and are NOT feeling the composting always check your area for local manure for sale. Many times smaller farms will sell you some at an affordable price. Cheaper than filling your bag with Miracle grow and better too 🙂
There you have it! Let me know if you compost and what tips you have or if you are going to start a compost pile this year?
Sunday 26th of December 2021
When you mention turning your pile with the tractor, could you add more details? What time of implement and what technique? Thanks!
Wednesday 5th of January 2022
Sure we turn it a few times per season. Really depends on how much we are adding to it, the more you add the more you want to turn it in. We scoop up under it and start a new pile then continue to pull from that pile and place it on top of the new pile. If you have a smaller compost you can use a pitch fork and turn it over. Basically, you want it to get all nice and mixed up.
Monday 22nd of February 2021
I'm so happy when I hear about people caring for the land. I was fortunate in that I was born and raised on the farm and so was my wife of 43 years. My career was also in the field of agriculture helping farmers with getting the best crops with proper use of fertilizer and chemical. I'm 63 and still learning. One thing of interest maybe in regards to weeds is chickens do not pass viable seeds in their manure but cattle do. I don't remember for sure about pigs but I don't think they do either. I should know as I have raised them for years but I don't. Another animal that doesn't are Emues or Alpacas. Anyway best of times to you and enjoy it all. Feel free to ask if you have questions.
Wednesday 24th of February 2021
Awesome thank you! Will do.