This compost, which has been sifted through a 1/2″ screen mesh, is made from about half leaves and half wood shavings with minimal “green matter” (kitchen waste). I just dumped the material in the bin and forgot about it, and it took nearly a year and a half for it to rot down completely. Nevertheless, the result is a rich compost with lots of earthworms and nutrients. I used some of it to make potting soil, while the rest will become mulch on my summer gardens.
After a little reading and a lot of experimentation, I have found that there are a few important principles for making good compost, especially from wood waste:
- A bin that holds at least 27 cubic feet. A smaller bin will still work, but much more slowly. A bin at least 3’X3’X4′ speeds up the process, and it will yield about 40 gallons of finished compost.
- Lots of green matter. While it’s theoretically possible to put in too much, very few home kitchens generate that much. Put in all your banana peels, apple cores, orange peels, and especially eggshells.
- Keep it moist. As I add the brown matter (leaves and wood waste) I soak the pile down with the hose. A compost bin in the sun will tend to dry out, whereas one in the shade is less likely to get dry. Check every so often that the middle of the pile is moist but not soggy.
- Turn it frequently. I use a big garden fork to loosen up the pile. Ideally, I would turn a bin 2-3 times a week, but I’m lucky to get to it once a month. But the more frequently you turn the pile, the quicker it will rot down.
You can get a lot fancier with your methods and materials if you like, but even if you choose to dump it and forget it, you will eventually get your compost.