Chicken wire compost pile
How to build a compost pile fast and efficiently
Do you love to make mud pies? In many areas of the country you can make them all year long.
Imagine the feeling of slimy mud, crunchy leaves and cool grass in your hands.
Mud pies make the perfect gooey, gloppy mess. Wouldn't it be fun to make a
trash can size mud pie? Well prepare to get dirty. Because that's what we're
going to do.
The huge mud pie that we will make is called a compost pile. A compost pile is a mix of
dead brown yard waste, like leaves and dead plants, plus green grass or plant
clippings. You can even mix in your table scraps from dinner.
Compost is the process of rotting all these items until they turn into new dirt. This new
soil is full of vitamins and minerals for your plants, and it helps the water
drain better so your plants grow really big. The rotting is thanks to
microorganisms or tiny little bugs that live in your compost pile and break it
down to make the new soil. The microorganisms are so little that you wouldn't
see them even if you look closely.
Some of the bugs that you will see in your compost pile are ants, beetles, centipedes,
millipedes and mites. Each bug lives in a little neighborhood in the compost.
These bugs eat all of the items you add to the pile. The droppings they leave
behind after eating create the new soil you can use for planting or adding to
Let's get started making your own giant mud pie, and let the rotting begin.
Start with a four foot by three foot piece of wire mesh or chicken fence. This can be
found at your local hardware store. Or you can simply make a big pile in your
yard; it works just as well. Form your fencing into a circle, and have an adult
use pliers to pinch and secure the ends together.
Next, gather the items you need and place them in the bin you've created. To create a
good compost pile half of your items will be dead and brown like crunchy leaves
and dead plants. The other half will be green, like grass, left over dinner
vegetables or plant clippings. Start by adding a one foot layer of brown items
to the bottom of your bin or pile, and then add a one foot layer of green
Next it's time to get your hands dirty by mixing all the items together. Once everything
is mixed up, you will add water to your pile, so get out the hose or a bucket.
The pile should be damp with water like a rung out sponge. When the pile is
wet, cover it with a plastic garbage bag to keep it moist. Don't forget to
weigh down the garbage bag with a rock or brick so it doesn't blow away.
Alternatively if you do not want to make your own compost pile, you can purchase a compost bin. There are several different brands and types of compost bins on the market today. They come in a range of prices, anywhere from 19.99 for a kitchen compost bin, to 129.99 for a yard compost bin.
How will you know if your compost pile is doing its job? Twenty-four hours after you add
the water you can check the compost pile. If you have mixed it well enough the
compost will heat up. This is from all the microorganisms who have moved into
their neighborhoods and have started eating up all those items you added. The
compost pile will be about 150-160 degrees in the center. That is a hot mud
pie. If your compost pile is not warm, you will want to add more green items.
If it begins to smell like rotten food you will want to add more brown items.
Be sure it remains moist. If it dries out the pile will not rot, or compost,
Mix your compost pile at least once a week. This will be a great excuse to play in the
dirt and leaves. You can add green or brown items to your compost pile at any
time. Just remember that for every layer of green items you add, you will need
to add a layer of brown items to keep your compost rotting well.
Table scraps are great for your compost pile, however, be sure there are not any meat
or dairy products being added, as they won't break down well.
If you keep things mixed right, it will take about two months before the materials will
turn into new soil to use around your yard.
Compost is fun to make, but better yet, it's great for your plants. You're doing your part
to help the environment when composting, by recycling your yard waste and
kitchen scraps. That's something to be proud of!