Friday, November 9, 2007

Where do you put your compost piles?

My garden currently contains only a few brassicas and greens but the main crop in my Fall garden is always compost!

I know that compost is not a flower or a vegetable but I think of it as a crop because it is sooooo important to the life of all the other plants.

I could write a whole post (and probably should) on why compost is so vital to the organic garden, but this post is about placement of the compost piles. I always used to keep my compost bins and piles hidden out of site behind the garden. This works fine, but I have had occasion over the years where I would move the pile from one spot to another. I noticed that if I let grass grow over the spot where a compost pile used to be that it would grow three times faster and lusher. This obviously means that the ground under a compost pile also benefits from the compost.

With this in mind, I now locate Fall compost piles IN the garden. This year when I re-organized my garden beds, I purposely made the interior beds four foot square so I could easily convert those beds to compost piles in the off season. Those beds are also easier to plant intensively and successively a la Mel Bartholomew's Square Foot Gardening.

All I do is drive either metal or wood posts in the corners and wrap chicken wire around the posts.

As I clean up all the garden debris, it goes into these new bins. I also put in shredded leaves and some grass clippings to get the piles heated up.

I will turn the piles a few times and by the Spring The debris will be "black gold", and the beds will be revitalized! I am even considering rotating these compost bins throughout the garden beds during the growing season when the organic matter is so plentiful. In past years I still had the bins off to the side or used my tumbler in the Spring and Summer.

As for right now, I'm very glad that it finally rained enough that the grass turned green and started growing. I now can bag my organic grass clippings to add plenty or nitrogen to the piles. As for the carbons, I can add leaves. I too am a thief of other people's bagged leaves when they put them out for the garbage. I enjoyed Tracey's post about hoarding other people's leaves for composting. The only problem with that is that sometimes you get more garbage in the bag than leaves. On my last raid I mistakenly got six bags of pine needles instead of leaves.

I still added a small layer of them to the piles but the rest will become mulch for my blueberries.

Isn't it amazing that people throw stuff like that away? Not me, I'm always looking for more compost ingredients!



I keep my compost bins in the same place at the edge of the vegetable garden. But, that's a good idea to use one of the 4 x 4 beds as a temporary compost bin!


marc - YOU ARE A GENIUS!!!!! I'm so jazzed about this! I've got garden debris ALL OVER THE PLACE and even though I got a new compost tumbler it's not enough. I was planning to do lasagna style in my new 4x4 raised beds but they are only 12 inches high. I'm going to use the marc method! I've got some things in my basement left by the previous owners that I can use for the corners. I'll head to the hardware store to get some chicken wire. I'll post pictures on my blog in a few days. Thanks, marc!

Crafty Gardener

I have 3 compost bins behind a fence in the garden and 1 compost bin at the side of my deck. This one is so that I don't have to trek down the garden on a cold and windy day to empty the compost. We also have a few piles of compost at the very back of the garden. I just love reaping the rewards of composting.

Marie Suzanne

What a great idea! Also with our long winters it won't be an eye sore!Yet it will be very beneficial to the soil and future plants! I wish I had thought of it! Love your site! thank you for the tip! Marie Suzanne,dailyweeder,com


That's some vegie garden you have going there.

Like the composting idea!

Frankie @ Veg Plot

I spend ages on my compost, shredding paper to add carbon to the nitrogen riv=ch greens. I've done a similar thing with chickenwire for my leafmould this year.


I have actually used the rotating compost pile for gardening -- I have even grown things IN the compost pile! I find that squash particularly like a compost pile for growing.

And pine needles are an awesome find. I love to mulch with them.

Robin (Bumblebee)

Fortunately, we have lots of room out here. I have three black plastic bins as well as a couple of piles next to the woods where I put bigger pieces that really need to be broken apart or mulched with the Mighty Mack. But regardless, everything seems to break down nicely over time without a lot of bother.

--Robin (Bumblebee)


this is great idea how to enrich the raised beds. After compost is ready and you use it somewhere else, the soil there will be much better and plants will be healthier :)

Mary B

Do you have any advice for an army family that moves every couple years -- is it worth starting a compost pile, or should I just look for some locally? It can be such a challenge to keep the momentum going with the garden when we move so often.... we're moving this spring.

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