When I told my husband I was going to start a compost pile, he said, “But we don’t have a bin.” I told him I was going “old school” with my compost and making a true pile. (Hey – it worked for dad for DECADES and he was famous for the size and deliciousness of the tomatoes he grew with that compost…Who am I to mess with a proven method???).
So after doing a little reading from such things as A Simple Guide to Composting in your Backyard (and peeking at a few websites), I fearlessly set out to build my pile of gardening goodness.
Down went a layer of dried leaves (this is the brown material with lots of carbon). Now we are surrounded by oaks and their leaves can be a little harder to break down, so I went at them with hedge clippers (it is all about making do with what you have on hand) to break them up and aid in their decomposition.
Next a layer of scrumptious veggie and fruit waste (those old carrots and grapes hiding in the back of the refrigerator and…well, you know where that is going…). It is a good idea to have a kitchen container to keep your veggie/fruit scraps in but on days you are cleaning out the refrigerator (as I was today) you can just take the stuff right out to the compost pile and bury it. Rotten fruit and veggies may not be appetizing to you, but your compost pile LOVES them since they provide the green (nitrogen-laden) layer.
Bury it? Yes, after the veggie layer came a nice layer of dirt. It helps to keep the garden critters (bunnies and raccoons) from foraging in your compost for some tasty tidbits. Plus there are fun microorganisms in the dirt which help the composting process. And this was topped with yet another layer of hedge-clipped oak leaves. A little sprinkle of water (the pile is supposed to be as damp as wrung-out sponge, so I just used a little water to hold down the top layer of leaves).
Voila! A Compost Pile!