STEPS TO BUILDING SLOW BURNING COMPOST PILE
One very easy thing you can do to reduce your impact on the planet, and bolster your gardening efforts, is to compost. Compost makes rich fertilizer and mulch out of yard waste, food scraps, tree trimmings, old lumber and even certain types of paper.
Pick a Good Location:
Break Up the Ground a Bit:
You don't have to dig the location, but aerate the top layer of soil and completely remove weeds. If this is your first pile in the area, you may wish to add some worms: Red worms are best, but nightcrawlers will do.
Start with a Layer of Small Sticks or Brush:
The idea is to trap some air pockets at the bottom.
Build Your Pile in Layers:
When possible, alternate layers of brown materials and green materials. The mixing of carbon (brown) and nitrogen (green) wastes fosters breakdown. A layer of green grass, covered with a layer of wood chips or dead leaves, works well. Paper and cardboard is carbon. Coffee is nitrogen.
Chop Up Big Things:
Fruit rinds, over-the-hill garden plants, etc. all break down faster when chopped up. Try a machete: sharper blade equals much less work.
Keep the Pile Damp:
No Meat or Fat:
Make Your Pile as Big as Possible:
Bigger piles burn hotter. Anything much smaller than roughly three feet in diameter will break down very slowly, and may not break down completely in any amount of time. Lawn cuttings break down relatively fast.
Crack the Thing Open Once in a While:
Keep a Tub in Your Kitchen:
Without building specific apparatus, the easiest way is with a screen or a series of screens, and a big wheelbarrow. Place the screen over the wheelbarrow. Shovel the compost on. Shake or scrape with shovel to force the compost through. Keep going until the barrow is full or until you have all you need. Use while fresh to take advantage of teeming microbial life. Keep the screening discards for re-composting.