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How To Compost Successfully

Composting is nature’s way of recycling organic material. Proper composting is the result of bacterial and microbial action. Compost makes an excellent additive to garden soils, flower beds, planting containers, and above ground planters of all kinds. Compost provides necessary nutrients to the soil like nitrogen, as well as many different macro and micronutrients that are not always available in commercial fertilizers. Composting is easy and works relatively quickly depending on three important factors.

Success Factors

Successful composting depends on:

  1. Content of materials.
  2. Exposed surface areas of compost materials.
  3. Availability of moisture and air.


  1. Selecting the proper location for a compost pile is important.
  2. Do not place the compost pile near or against buildings. trees, or fences.

    Location is everything in Composting and real estate.

    Location is everything in composting and real estate

  3. Do not locate your compost pile under and overhang.
  4. Select a location close to a source of water.
  5. Plan a spot for your compost that is not too far away from the kitchen.

Building the compost pile

  1. When first starting your compost pile, build it on bare ground.
  2. Use a layering technique to begin building your compost pile.
  3. Lay down several inches of organic material. It can be leaves, lawn clippings, vegetable scraps, small twigs (less than 1/2″ in diameter), sod, flowers, etc. The layer should be firm and lightly watered.
  4. Next, put down a layer of fertilizer or compost starter. A layer one to two inches thick is best. Again, firm up the layer and water it lightly.
  5. Now, complete the pile with a thin layer of soil. Garden soil works fine here. As with each layer, make sure it is firm and then water it lightly.

Maintaining the compost pile

  1. For best results, turn the compost pile with a pitchfork or a shovel once a week or at least once every four or five weeks.
  2. Make sure the compost pile has adequate moisture. If you squeeze a handful, you should get one or two drops of water.
  3. Add new material to the center of the compost pile or turn the pile as you add new material.
  4. Cover the pile in the winter to aid in decomposition.
  5. Use the compost every year to improve the soil in your garden, flower beds, and planters.
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