A compost pile is not always this pretty.  I just have the pretty stuff on the top for the picture.

The Cheap & Easy Way to Make Compost

By Warren Yates 

Compost!  What a thing to do a story on, right?  If you work a 100 acre field then you might not be worried too much about compost.  However, if you enjoy spending most of your time in your backyard then this section might be of interest.  As for myself, I live in my yard when time and weather permit.  I have read about the properties of compost and how it is important to plants.  Often compost is the topic for many gardening television shows.  Basically they all say the same thing; it is the best thing that you can do for your garden.  It is chocolate cake, pork tenderloin and the king's feast to a plant.  It breaks up the hard soil and holds moisture while feeding the plants.   Not only that but it looks real cool and is fun to play in.  

What is compost made of?  Compost is made of many things that can be found around your home.  If it was once living (meaning plants, not meat) then it will work.  I have a grass catcher attachment on my lawnmower that I use almost every time I mow the lawn.  I have to put it somewhere, so I use the clippings as compost.   A little dirt and it breaks down fast.  I have also used fruit and vegetable scraps from the kitchen.  Go to the link at the bottom of the page and see what other people use in their compost bins.

How do I build a compost bin?   I have seen some very nice compost bins made of expansive wood, plastic, brick and even old wooden pallets stood up to make big squares.  They all were set up in stages and required that you turn them from one bin to the other.  I don't know about you, but I don't have the time or the strength to do that much work.  This site is not about work.  It's about relaxation and  enjoying your projects and hobbies.  Get it?  That is why it is called  www.projectsandhobbies.com, not www. hurt and frustrate yourself .com.  You can just throw the stuff on the ground at the end of your garden where it is in easy range of using it.  Put the nice looking stuff on top to hide the ugly stuff.  Add a layer of dirt every so often so that the bacteria can break it down and add fertilizer to feed the bacteria.  Poke holes in it once in a while to allow air into it.  When you need to use some of it, scoop it up from the underside the pile.  The best way that I have seen to mix the layers in the pile is to take a 1/4 inch rod about 48 inches and using a pipe (about 3" in diameter) bend one end of the rod around it to form a "cork screw".  Click here to view mine.  Bend a handle on the opposite end or put it into a drill.  Screw it into the pile and pull it free.  This will pull the inside to the outside.  You can make one or buy one at your hardware store.  

Welcome to my garden.  As you can see my garden is small (picture at the top of the page).  It keeps me busy though.  My compost pile is almost bigger than my garden.  Although the pile looks big, it breaks down quickly so I cut my grass often to increase my compost supply.  I use about everything in the yard except rose bush clippings.  Those thorns dry out and get hard, so you see why I don't use them.  I have already tilled the compost in the garden and even a layer was added to the bottom of the rows so the plant roots can reach down for the goodies.  The darker soil is freshly tilled and is the walking path.  I will rake some of it onto the planting rows to create mounds for root warmth.   

What if your garden does not have room to put a compost pile?  Try this concept and see how it works for you.  Find a 55 gallon drum with a removable lid and drill drain holes in the bottom.  Fill it about halfway with your compost ingredients.  Place the lid on the barrel to keep the rain out and use the locking ring with the barrel when you want to move it.  To turn the compost, just roll it around.  To move the pile from one place to another, just roll it around.  To carry the compost to other parts of the yard, just roll it around.  To hide the barrel, roll it out of the way.  Never let the compost get wet.  Moisture is necessary but not wet.  Example; if you put in your grass clippings straight from the grass catcher, it already has some moisture in it.  Just add some dry dirt.  I add a little fertilizer with mine.  It will take some practice but it works.

In all cases, make sure that the compost has completely decayed before putting it too close to your plant roots.  The compost uses nitrogen to aid in the break down process, and it will rob the nitrogen from your plants.  If this happens, your plants will seem to stop growing.  Add some Miracle Grow or it's equivalent, and it should pull out of its slump.

In the picture below, I am planting bushes.  I have my compost drum beside my worksite.  How many of my projects do you see in this picture?  There is a bluebird house, a see-saw, 3D landscaping and the compost drum.  The article on treasure hunting takes place here too.   The cat sleeps in the pansy pot on the deck during the summer.  I will never forget the first time that I saw that cat.  I was in the yard cutting a board with my electric (loud) circular saw.   The cat jumped up on the board, sat down and looked at me, not afraid of anything.  He has been keeping me company with my projects ever since.  I can't get him to leave either.  Just kidding.  He even has his own web page. Click Here and see for yourself.

This just looks like a bunch of work to me!

Try these links and see what you can learn.  Remember you read it at  www.projectsandhobbies.com   If you are the outdoors type try my section on Fishing for Bluegill and Crappie.

Warren Yates

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