Super Duper Compost

Build a pile, ideally 4-foot x 4-foot in size, in no more than 6-inch layers at a time. Make it 'Super Duper' by adding comfrey, nettles or dried horsetail, because these plants are 'bio-accumulators' containing valuable nutrients that make high-quality compost. TIP: Leaving food waste out prevents problems with rodents.

Ingredient List:

Manure (cow, sheep, horse, llama, goat or chicken-can be fresh)

Leaves (TIP: store in circular wire cages in fall)

Herbaceous prunings

Weeds (avoid weeds in seed or pernicious weeds)

Spoiled hay

Grass clippings

Nettles (in season)

Comfrey (in season)

Horsetails (in season)

Seaweed (follows winter storms)

Wood ash (uncontaminated)

Sawdust and fine woodchips (not cedar)


The Do's and Don'ts of Composting

Do mix layers of carbon-rich materials with nitrogen-rich materials. For speedy breakdown the ideal ratio of compost is 30: 1 Carbon:Nitrogen.

Do provide aeration, by allowing air to flow freely through the pile. (Free palettes work perfectly!)

Do make sure the pile is moist for the aerobic bacteria to work. Keep a hose running on the pile as you turn it from one bin to another.

Do avoid compaction by adding no more than a 6" layer of material at a time.

Do not build compost piles too big - no more than four feet high and four feet wide.

Do avoid weeds that have gone to seed, unless you heat compost to reach the high temperatures needed to destroy weed seeds.

Don't compost diseased plant waste, pet litter, toxic chemicals and any pernicious weeds such as couch grass, ivy, mints, goutweed or morning glory.

Don't use cat, dog, pig or human feces in the compost, because it can spread infectious disease or parasites.

Do avoid large quantities of seaweed with high salt levels. The salt preserves the compost pile instead of decomposing it!

Don't use meat and fish scraps that attract animals and flies; grease and oil do not break down. To avoid attracting rodents keep kitchen waste in rat proof composters, or bury in trenches around the garden, covering with 9" of soil.

Do add 'activators' to your pile to accelerate decomposition. One of the best you can add is fresh manure, steaming with microbes! Empty bins in fall, and apply 2" layers of compost as protective winter mulch. Feeding the soil and smothering weed seeds at the same time is what I call 'organic weed & feed'.

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