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Making a Compost Pile

A compost pile should be made of a convenient size, usually not less that 10 feet square (100 square feet) and 3 to 5 feet high. The top should be left flat or with a slight depression in the center to catch rain or added water. Too much water eliminates air and slows the decay process.

One way suggested in building the pile is to make a layer of leaves, straw, grass clippings, and other organic materials 1 foot deep, wet down and pack. Spread a layer of manure 4 to 6 inches deep over this layer of wet material. Then spread up to 5 pounds of ground rock phosphate or 1 quart of raw bone meal per 100 square feet, and 1 pound of ground limestone.

Instead of the rock phosphate and bone meal, you could use 5 pounds of a complete organic fertilizer such as Fertrell per 100 square feet. Also, a layer of topsoil is sometimes used.

Then continue to repeat the process until the pile has reached 3 to 5 feet high.

Compost will begin to heat after 2 or 3 days. Keep it moist, but not too wet, and do not disturb for awhile.

After 3 to 4 weeks, fork it over, mixing the parts to obtain uniformity. Fatty animal wastes tend to create bad odors, draw flies and ants; so, try to avoid their use if this will be a problem.

Compost for the garden should be ready from 2 months to 1 year, depending on the time of year, type of materials added, and skill of the composter. When the compost is broken down into a homogenous mixture, and no undecomposed leaves or other material may be seen, it is ready for use.

Submitted by Kim, WA

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