To form a compost pile, you must first decide upon a structure to hold it all together. Bins can be made very economically using four wooden pallets tied together to form a square or using a 4x10-foot piece of woven wire with ends connected to make a circle, using the 10-foot length to form your circle and the four-foot lenght as your height. In addition, there are several commercial composting units available through local garden stores.
Once you have a bin, you can start adding the organic material from your lawn. To make the process work efficiently, you will need to mix a variety of items together that includes both “green” and “brown” material. By mixing green materials such as grass clippings and shrubbery trimmings, you will add nitrogen to the pile that will help breakdown the leaves and other brown material.
Leaves, vegetable and fruit peelings, grass clippings, shrubbery trimmings and small limbs are just a few of the commonly used materials in compost bins. Food scraps, such as meat and dairy products, should not be used.
Depending upon the weather, the location of the bin and the size of your compost pile, you could have some finished compost in as little as six months. This compost is known to many gardeners as “black gold” because of its many uses. It is most commonly used as a soil amendment. Adding compost will increase the moisture-holding capacity, improve drainage and aeration of the soil. Over time, additions of compost create a desirable soil structure, which will make the soil much easier to work and improve the health and vigor of the flowers and vegetable plants you grow.
For more detailed information, call the Walker County Extension Office at 706-638-2548 or stop by our office to get a free copy of our “Composting and Mulching” bulletin.
Norman Edwards is coordinator of Walker County Extension Service.