Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Compost Pile ~ Building your own with avaliable materials

Do you have a compost pile or bin? We have had an area for several years that my husband and sons built for us to make our own compost. I mentioned here months ago that I would talk about our compost. We use the compost for my raised bed gardening area that we have for our vegetables/fruits, like tomatoes, peppers, squash, lettuce, zucchini, onions strawberries, lemons and limes. I also use it for my regular outdoor plants too. Having this amazing organic matter to plant in has some amazing results. Your plants will love you for amending the soil with it.

For composting to work correctly, the pile needs 4 things: 
Carbon, Nitrogen, Oxygen and Water.

Your mixture should be somewhere around 30:1 C/N. Meaning you need a lot more carbon items than nitrogen items for everything to work. Carbon items are mainly dry things like dead leaves, newspapers, straw/hay, tissue rolls, cardboard boxes, sawdust if it's not from treated lumber. Nitrogen items are mostly wet items like vegetable scraps and lawn clippings.  
You don't want your pile too wet or too dry, kind of like a good wrung out sponge. Too much Water, your waste won't decompose. It will be smelly!! Too little water and you'll kill the bacteria that the pile needs, the little microbes. You will know if things aren't working because the pile won't heat up. The ideal temps of the pile should be around 135-160 degrees Fahrenheit. Aeration is also important for your compost pile. This is the Oxygen that it needs. Sometimes we use a pitch fork but most of the time we use the tractor to turn the pile. This stuff is heavy so the tractor comes in handy. If you do everything correctly the waste will decompose over time and be ready to use. We call this "Black Gold".

I thought I'd share with you some of the items that go into our pile.
Of course, grass clippings and leaves, which we have a ton of after Fall, I rake the leaves up and run them through our chipper/shredder. I also add small limbs off trees that have fallen to the shredder machine to chop them up into tiny pieces. Our land has mainly pine trees, so I use a lot of the branches that have fallen over the year in the compost. One tree that you Don't want to put in is anything from a Black Walnut tree, (leaves or limbs) they contain a plant poisoning that survives. We have some of these trees, but I always stay clear of them.

Banana Leaves~We have about 50 Banana plants, When we get a frost the bananas leaves die and then soon after they dry up. When I cut them off the plants I run those through the shredder too.

Lint from the dryer is another item that I add. Lint is a carbon-rich material that is great for your compost pile. It provides the composting microbes in your compost with the energy they need to break the waste down into nutrient-rich humus.

Dog hair~We have 3 dogs, 2 Miniature Schnauzers and 1 Yorkie. The 2 Schnauzers get their hair cut several times a year.  The Yorkie would not be a pretty sight if she had her hair cut. :0)

Egg shells~We have approx. 36 chickens, so we get lots of eggs. After using the eggs, I save the shells, crush them up into little bits to add to the compost.The shells are high in calcium.

Hay/Straw from the chickens bedding and nests and chicken litter both go into our compost pile. The chicken litter is very high in nitrogen so you should never use it straight in your garden, it can kill/burn your plants up. Always make sure your chicken litter is composted 6-12 months before using if you're using it straight to plants.

Coffee Grounds~They are nitrogen rich.

Vegetable peelings~when I don't give these to the chickens they end up in the compost pile. Don't have photo of veggie scraps/peelings today, chickens had a feast. :0)

Here's the end result of our composting.
Black Gold!

I enjoy working with our compost pile. I feel like I'm really doing something good and not being so wasteful with items that would normally be thrown away. My plants benefit greatly from the time and effort that is involved. I'm sure there's many methods to composting~This is our method and different materials that we put into our pile.

With Fall soon approaching, I'm looking forward to being out with my leaves, sticks and branches~running them through the chipper/shredder machine to add to our compost pile.

Do you have a compost bin/pile? What items do you put in yours??

From the Heart,

Parties that I like to join throughout the week:
Monday: Cedar Hill Ranch, Made By You Monday, Met Monday, Meet Me Monday, More the Merrier Monday,
Motivated Monday, Debbiedoo's, Mop it up Monday
Tuesday: Tip Me Tuesday, Knick of Time Tuesday, A Stroll thru Life, Not Just a Housewife
 Tweak It Tuesday
Wednesday: Wow Us Wednesday, Wicked Awesome Wednesday, DIY by Design,
No Minimalist Here, Primp Your Stuff, Penny Pinching Party, Under $100 Linky Party,  
House of Hepworths
Thursday: Transformation Thursday, Time Travel Thursday, Blog Stalking Thursday, Carolyns Homework,  One Artsy Mama
 Live Laugh Linky Thursday
Friday: Feathered Nest Friday, Inspiration Friday, Frugal Friday, Weekend Wrap Up, Miss Mustardseed, Happy Hour Projects, Stuff and NonsenseCommon Ground Shine on Fridays   
Sat: Funky Junk Interiors, It's Overflowing  Southern Hospitality 
Sun: DIY Showoff, My 1929 Charmer, Homemaker on a Dime,Under the Table and Dreaming
Plus a few others~
Embracing Change
Make it Great Monday 
Make It Pretty Monday
Tutorial Tips and Tidbits
Bouquet of Talent


  1. Very informative. I will be coming back here when/if we ever decide to start a garden. We've got lots of things from your list we could compost. Thanks for stopping by Posed Perfection today and leaving me a sweet note about the Fabric Rosette Tree. I hope you'll visit again soon. Have a great week!


  2. I found you through TT&J's link party. I have a compost pile and I love the feel of the rich compost when everything has went well in the pile!

  3. You are much more industrious than I can ever be:)

  4. So resourceful! I love it! I would love if you would share this at my Crazy Cute Party happening right now! I've got a totally awesome giveaway that you could win just for linking up! Come on over! ;D

    Between U & Me Blog

    Oh! And I'm your newest follower!

  5. Wow, what a great post. I used to attempt to make a compost pile when we lived in the country. You have inspired me to give it another try. Thank you so much for sharing at A Bouquet of Talent. I featured your great DIY frosted glass vase. Don't forget to grab your button. Have a great week.

  6. Found your post on bouquet of talent link party! I have been wanting to build and start a compost pile. Is it hard to maintain and turn? How do you get to the black gold if you keep adding to your pile? Or do you mix the compost and leave it until it is ready?

    1. Good morning and thanks for stopping by.
      On our compost pile, we have it separated into two sides. One side I will build up fairly quickly with leaves, grass, chicken hay and litter, also other items in the list. It's not difficult to turn, when I add anything new I'll take the pitchfork and turn right then though every couple of weeks we'll take the front-loader tractor and turn since it gets heavy.
      On the other side of our compost bin is where I do smaller piles and then add to the larger one over a couple of months. Then come springtime it's ready to be added to the garden soil. Mostly, after I've built the big pile, I leave it alone for the winter months except for the turning process.
      Items really do break down fairly quickly since I use a chipper/shredder to make items smaller to begin with.
      Thanks for your question~I hope I've helped some. Have fun with your compost pile/bin. It really is rewarding to see the finished product come Spring.

    2. Thanks so much Jana, yes you answered my questions!


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