Stella Otto: The Backyard Fruit Gardener

Today's Tip: Mow vegetation short around the base of fruit trees and bushes to reduce winter habitat for rodents.

Compost — Where to Begin

So, how do you start com­post­ing? First you might want to con­sider how much space and time you have for com­post­ing. Here are 4 basic meth­ods with their pros and cons:

Pro’s & Con’s of Com­mon Com­post­ing Methods

MethodPro’sCon’s
Tum­blerEasy to main­tain once set up
Takes lit­tle space
Usu­ally pest-free
Ini­tial equip­ment can cost more than other meth­ods
Cre­ates small amounts of com­post on a home gar­den scale
Need to wait for one batch to fin­ish before start­ing more
Large tum­blers my be heavy to turn when full
Pile or Open BinEasy & cheap to set upCan be dif­fi­cult to turn man­u­ally if pile is large
May draw pests
Sheet
aka Lasagna Gar­den­ing
Min­i­mal main­te­nance
Espe­cially use­ful when con­vert­ing sod to a gar­den spot
Can take a long time to yield fin­ished com­post
Can draw pests dur­ing the early part of the com­post­ing process
TrenchEffec­tive for quickly improv­ing small areas of poor soilMore man­ual labor inten­sive to start
Slow decom­po­si­tion of start­ing mate­r­ial
May draw nitro­gen from plants set in trench
Ten­dency toward occa­sional anaer­o­bic conditions

Once you have decided which method will suit you, con­sider the loca­tion of your com­post­ing site. Most likely, a spot near the gar­den where you will even­tu­ally use the com­post is best. Of course, if you sheet or trench com­post, you will want to do so directly where you intend to plant your even­tual garden.

Compost bin with a mix of horse manure, fine wood chips, and Kitchen & garden scraps piled up to start the process

Com­post bin with a mix of horse manure, fine wood chips, hay and kitchen & gar­den scraps piled up to start the process

If you live in a com­mu­nity that is prone to lots of reg­u­la­tions, you may want to check with local author­i­ties. Some­times there are rules regard­ing com­post­ing; pri­mar­ily aimed at min­i­miz­ing pesky for­ag­ing varmints or odors from poorly main­tained com­post piles. Prop­erly cre­ated and main­tained com­post should not smell badly or be attrac­tive to pests.

For other infor­ma­tion see —

Cre­at­ing Com­post
Con­tain­ing Your Com­post
Recipe for a Com­post Pile
Fac­tors that Affect the Com­post­ing Process
Com­post No-nos: What not to put in your com­post pile

Com­ing soon —

Com­post Conun­drums — Trou­bleshoot­ing your com­post pile
Com­post Myths