A compost pile is an ideal environment to observe the process of decomposition. Organisms in the food chain include microscopic fungi, protozoa, bacteria and more.
Larger organisms include mites, earthworms, spiders, and snails. All of these organisms can be classified as decomposers who are responsible for breaking down dead organic material and cycling it back into nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous for living things.
The type of decomposition that occurs in a healthy compost pile is aerobic (as opposed to anaerobic), meaning the bacteria use oxygen to feed on the organic matter. That is why it is important to aerate your compost pile with a pitchfork or shovel to keep it active.
Plants grown in good soil grow faster, produce more fruits and vegetables, and resist pests and diseases. Good soil is at the heart of all gardening.
- 30 minutes
- Green materials/brown materials
- Several handfuls of cured compost
- A constructed bin
1. Create a base for your pile made of woody browns- like larger sticks and branches- to allow air flow and drainage under the pile.
2. Apply alternate layers of browns and greens about 4-6 inches thick.
3. Between each layer, sprinkle a few handfuls of compost to inoculate the pile with healthy bacteria and moisten with water to the dampness of a wrung-out sponge.
4. Repeat until pile is 3-5 feet high.
5. Keep a layer of browns, such as straw, on top so that the nitrogen doesn’t evaporate.
6. After building your pile, take the stick end of a shovel or a large stick and poke holes through the pile from top to bottom to create airflow.
7. The outside of the pile will not fully decompose. Once the pile has decomposed, sift through it with a heavy-gauge wire screen.
YOUR COMPOST IS READY TO USE IN THE GARDEN WHEN:
- It is dark brown and looks and smells like soil
- Is composed of nonrecognizable ingredients
- Has an earthy humus-like odor