A compost pile can be a great organic amendment to any home garden. This November give your compost pile a once over and see what it needs before it gets too cold too turn this winter.
First step is to assess whether it has enough brown materials like leaves, small sticks, and dead plants. A healthy compost pile typically consists of at least 50% or more of these materials. The other component of home compost is nitrogen-rich, green materials like kitchen scraps, coffee grounds, and grass clippings. Throughout the year there are often more green materials for the compost than brown, too much “green” can make the compost too wet and produce a bad smell. The remedy: add more brown materials!
Second thing to note when assembling, a compost pile can be created solely from brown materials around the yard (i.e. leaf compost pile). It can also be assembled with an equal amount of green and brown materials with active compost or soil between the layers. When building a compost pile you want to keep adding until the dimensions of the compost pile are no smaller than 3ft X 3ft X 3ft and no bigger than 5ft X 5ft X 5ft to maximize decomposition and heat within the pile. Materials will decompose quickly and evenly if they are varied sizes (which promotes oxygen flow) and on the small side.
Thirdly, once you have the right mix, let the pile rest. Place a tarp over it for the winter and let nature do the work. This tarp will help prevent excess rain from getting into the pile and help warm it up during sunny days. Come spring time, dig a shovel into the pile and you should have compost with a rich, dark color and a soft, fluffy texture that is ready to be added to the garden.
Explore these composting resources:
Autumn Composting Tips by Earth Easy Magazine: https://learn.eartheasy.com/articles/autumn-composting-tips/
Type of Composting and Understanding the Process by the E.P.A.: https://www.epa.gov/sustainable-management-food/types-composting-and-understanding-process
Building Your Compost Pile by University of Illinois Extension: https://web.extension.illinois.edu/homecompost/building.cfm
Home Composting by University of Kentucky Extension: http://www2.ca.uky.edu/agcomm/pubs/ho/ho75/ho75.pdf