I've been itching to start a garden for a few months now. I tried to
curb my appetite by reading books and websites, but I just couldn't
stand it any longer! So, today, I built a compost pile out of wooden
pallets and spent a beautiful fall day raking leaves. Funny to think
that my first step towards growing food is to hasten the decay of it.
Unfortunately, it's not a very proper compost pile. I've read about
putting down layers of green and brown, mixing in compost starters,
cutting it all up into little bits, but I just don't have the time or
resources to do that. So, I just dumped everything in, mixed it up,
and will hope for the best.
What should I expect from this kind of setup in the spring? I plan on
emtpying table scraps throughout the winter and giving it a good stir
every week. Would you have any other recommendations?
I can't wait for spring!
Your pile as described will eventually provide compost even if you do
nothing more to it. Compost happens...nature has been making the stuff since
However, I would recommend that you try to keep your pile moist to the
consistency of a wrung out sponge.
another thing that helps (at least keeping the local strays away from your leaf
pile) is to kind of bury table scraps under the leaves several inches, and in a
different spot each time. other than that, yup, compost happens!
Unless you enjoy raking, an easier way is to use your lawn mower to do
a final cut of your lawn, using a bag to catch the leaves and grass.
has the advantage of chopping up the leaves and mixing them with the
grass, all at the same time. If you have time next year, I would
recommend this technique with the addition of watering down the layers,
so that the pile is nice and moist (this speeds up the decomposition
process). Another helper would be to sprinkle some fertilizer (I use
10-10-10) in alternating layers. I would not recommend using your
repeatedly, on different occasions, as that would remove too much energy
from the lawn.
Joseph O'Brien wrote:
email@example.com (Joseph O'Brien) wrote in message
that will work. In the spring the compost will be partly finished.
Place it in your garden and plant through it. If you got anywhere
close to 10% kitchen scraps, it will finish composting in place no
later than June (in Michigan).
If you put nothing but leaves, they will act as mulch but they will
still be finished composting by september.
I usually try to keep some of the leaves separated from the rest, so I
can use them as mulch. Because they take the whole growing season to
compost, you have one weed free year where mulched. I use the rest, as
you do, to make sure that all the nutrients in kitchen scraps or
manure get absorbed during composting.
Ha. Yesterday I picked two large collard heads and several radicchio
heads. I have greens in the garden (under tunnels) which will be
picked into january.
If you are running short of "green", you can ask the grocer to save
you the lettuce, cabbage, etc. that has gone bad and is to be thrown
away. Beginning in the early spring, look for pre-bloom dandelions,
sow thistles, chickweed, etc. that people will be glad to have you
pull from their yards.
I, too suffer from too much brown, being blessed with lots of oak
leaves. I hurry them along a bit by piling them in the driveway and
going over them with the mower a couple of times until they're rather
shredded. Then, in they go!
So far, the only things that don't compost: coconut husks and
Monique in TX
Joseph O'Brien wrote:
Thanks for all the advice.
I actually have found a wonderful source of greens: leftovers from
lunch at the office. My company's fairly small (30 people) and they
provide catered lunch every day (this is their tricky way of getting
us to stay in the office for lunch!). Especially on days when
something super greasy is served, like fried chicken, the salad is
hardly touched. We usually take this home and either eat it or
I had no idea this would become such an obsession! Now, when we go to
relatives' houses for dinner, I find myself hoarding the scraps. Of
course, it remains to be seen whether or not this eccentric behavior
will pay off. Who knows... I may have nothing more than a pile of
leaves and moldy food a year from now.
In composting terms, coffeegrounds are 'green' (a nitrogen source).
Hundreds of pounds of grounds have been added to my compost
over the years (picked up at the company cafeteria). The Starbucks
chain has a policy of encouraging the use of their spent grounds
in composting. Good stuff!
I've had (on a few occasions) friends save 'stuff' for my compost
Pat in Plymouth MI ('someplace.net' is comcast)
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