is not complicated. It happens naturally, without any help from
us. We can speed up the process, however, by balancing carbon-rich
materials (Browns) with nitrogen-rich materials (Greens), by turning
the compost pile regularly for aeration and by keeping the pile
wet (but not too wet.) Below is a list of readily available materials
that can go into a compost pile.
barnyard animal manures (cow, horse, chicken, goat, sheep,
and rabbit. NEVER use dog, cat, or human manure/feces as they
may contain pathogens or diseases that could be harmful.)
black and white newsprint
brown paper bags from grocery store
torn/shredded carboard (brown boxes, brown packing tubes,
toilet paper and paper towel rolls, tubes egg cartons)
aged wood chips
sawdust from untreated lumber (check with a lumber yard)
Ingredients not suitable
for composting are oil, grease, bones, fat, dairy products and
Cold Compost Pile
which is made up of greens and browns and then left alone to
rot in place for several months to several years.
Hot or Active Compost Pile
A pile which is made up of greens and
browns and then turned and aerated often to incorporate air,
water, and/or fresh ingredients. Requires more effort but
often results in finished compost within a several weeks to a few
Sheet Composting or "Lasagna" Bed
A specific sort of
compost pile in which green and brown materials are built up
in layers over a present or future garden bed site.
Pit or Trench Composting
A method where you bury organic material
directly in the ground, sometimes along side of plantings, in
a shallow trench.
How to Build
a Sheet Compost Bed
Mark the area for your garden using a water
hose or a long rope to get the desired shape. Do NOT remove
sod or weeds.
Cover the area you've marked with wet newspapers
or flattened cardboard boxes (available free from most large
stores). This is your weed barrier.
Cover the weed barrier with organic material—leaves,
grass clippings, straw, wood chips, etc. Wood chips are often
available free from your city's sanitation department.
Layer several inches of organic material on
top of the weed barrier. Make sure you balance greens
Water until the garden is the consistency
of a damp sponge.
Plant, plant, plant. Mulch, mulch, mulch.