7 Factors Needed for a Compost Pile

Discover how to properly create your own compost pile, including the ingredients, microbes, surface area, pile size, moisture, aeration, time, and temperature. Compost is created from decomposing grass clippings, leaves, twigs, and branches, and it is a black, crumbly mixture of organic waste.

Compost is an organic material that is created when grass clippings, leaves, twigs, and branches decompose.

Find out how composting functions. Composting beginners can still produce high-quality compost. It is comparable to cooking, which is both an art and a science. You can learn the art of composting by keeping in mind the next seven factors.

  1. Materials

After a time anything that was once alive will naturally decompose. But, not all organic items should be composted for the home. To prepare compost, organic material, microorganisms, air, water, and a small amount of nitrogen are needed.


These items are safe to compost at home:

* grass clippings

* trimmings from hedges

* vegetable scraps

* leaves

* potting soil that has grown old

* twigs

* coffee filters with coffee grounds

* tea bags

* weeds that have not went to seed

* plant stalks


These items are Not safe to compost at home:

* weeds that have went to seed

* dead animals

* pet feces

* bread and grains

* meat

* grease

* cooking oil

* oily foods

*diseased plants


  1. What To Do To Make It Work

There are small forms of plant and animal life which break down the organic material. This life is called microorganisms. From a minute amount of garden soil or manure comes plenty of microorganisms.


Nitrogen, air, and water will provide a favorable environment for the microorganisms to make the compost. Air circulation  and water will keep the microorganisms healthy and working. The nitrogen feeds the tiny organisms. You may have to add a small amount of nitrogen to the pile.


Putting on too much nitrogen can kill microbes and too much water causes insufficient air in the pile. You just cannot add too much air.


  1. Beneficial Microorganisms

Bacteria are the most effective compost makers in your compost pile. They are the first to break down plant tissue. Then comes the fungi and protozoans to help with the process. The arthropodes, like centipedes, beetles, millipedes and worms, bring in the finishing touches to complete the composting.


  1. Smaller is Better

The materials will break down faster if the microorganisms have more surface area to eat. Chopping your garden materials with a chipper, shredder, or lawnmower will help them decompose faster.


  1. Size of The Pile

The activity of millions of microorganisms generates heat in the compost pile but a minimum size 3-foot by 3-foot by 3-foot  is needed for a hot, fast composting pile. Piles that are any larger may hamper the air supply needed in the pile for the microorganisms.


  1. Moisture and Aeration

If you can imagine a wet squeezed out sponge with its many air pockets, then this would be the ideal enviroment for the microorganisms in the pile to function at their best. Pay attention while your pile is composting, to the amount of rain or a drought you may have. Water in a drought and maybe turn the pile in a lot of rainy days. The extremes of these two may upset the balance of the pile. The use of a pitchfork would come in handy at this time.


  1. Temperature and Time

Keep your pile between 110F and 160F and the beneficial bacteria will love it. Not too cool nor too hot.

The temperature will rise over several days if you keep a good ratio of carbon and nitrogen, maintain lots of surface area within a large volume of material, and maintain adequate moisture and aeration.


-Importance of Compost-


+Compost has nutrients, but it is not a complete fertilizer.


+Compost provides nutrients in the soil until plants need to use them.


+ It loosens and aerates clay soils


+ Retains water in sandy soils.


-Using the Compost-


+ A soil amendment, mix 2 to 5 inches of compost into gardens each year before planting.


+ A potting mixture, add one part compost to two parts potting soil.


+ Make your own potting mixture by using equal parts of compost and sand or perlite.


+ A mulch, prodcast 2 to 4 inches of compost around annual flowers and vegetables, and up to 5 inches around your trees and shrubs.


+ A top dressing, mix finely sifted compost with sand and sprinkle evenly over lawns.


The final thing I would suggest once you have mastered the art of composting is to look very seriously at making your very own aerated compost tea. This elixir will give you results that are hard to believe.


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