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!