Composting is so hugely valuable for your plants (and your ability to show off your green thumb!) that I want to make this post as simple as can be. For the more experienced composter, sign up for our newsletter and watch for the “Compost Diggings” column to help further your knowledge.
A working (hot) compost pile needs a few things to get started:
NITROGEN – in the form of animal manures, greens and/or kitchen scraps (NEVER include meat, dairy or the manures of humans or meat eaters in your compost pile!)
CARBON – think of dried leaves, dried weeds (before they go to seed!) and straw
MOISTURE – water hose
OXYGEN – aeration from turning every three days or so
SIZE – the pile should be 3-4′ tall and wide to heat up properly
The smaller the pieces you start with, the faster decomposition can occur. Large pieces of weeds and small tree branches can decompose if let to sit in a pile for a year. Smaller pieces, turned regulary, with the right amount of water can actually make great smelling earth in as little as three weeks! The smell of nitrogen-rich items decomposing actually will instantly go away if the right amount of water and air can be incorporated into the pile and no bad odor is a sign you are doing it right. The fresh scent of earth is also the best test to show that the compost is decomposed enough for your garden as well.
This process is so worth mastering!
Questions? Email Cynthia@SoCalGardenHealth.com