Monday, July 2, 2012

Where to put your compost pile

The first step in composting is to choose a good spot.  The bacteria living in your pile that are breaking it down for you need warmth and moisture to do their jobs.  Therefore, choose a location where you get a little of both.  If you put the pile in the middle of a sunny field, it will likely dry out, kill the bacteria, and not compost quickly.  It will also likely get too much rain and that can kill the bacteria too.  Don't put it under total cover either.  You want it to get some sun to warm it up and some water from the rain so you don't have to water it yourself.  My pile is at the edge of the tree cover in my yard, right at the border of my garden.  That way it is in the sun part of the day but can still get rained on.  Another option is to put it anywhere you have some room in the sun, water it when it gets dry, and cover it with a tarp to retain the moisture.  I always go for the choice with the least effort and I think that tarps are ugly.  One other consideration for location is effort to get things to and from the pile.  I mentioned that my pile was at the edge of my garden.  This makes for less work in the spring when I am the busiest.  I have to walk further in the fall when I am raking leaves, but that time of the year isn't as busy so I don't mind.
If you notice, the old compost pile is in the middle of where you would find all of the fallen leaves.  This made sense when I was raking leaves, but then when it came time to move the finished compost, I realized what a pain it was to move all that heavy compost across the yard.  There was a second compost pile under the pine trees, but that was a mistake as well.  Whenever I went to the pile I was attacked by hundreds of hungry mosquitos.  So now the pile is out at the edge of the tree line where I hope it will be able to stay.

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