How To Make Compost Cheaply!

How To Make Compost Cheaply!

Knowing how to make compost cheaply is a crucial element in the success of any horticultural adventure.  For many, the thought of actually constructing or even buying a compost bin is a daunting challenge.

For those of us who know little about gardening, but have a small plot of ground where they hope to grow a tomato or two, a compost pile is a must.  Not only does compost add nutrients to the soil, but it’s great mulch!

There is no real need in having a compost bin; but one would make your project look neater.   A bin however, isn’t absolutely necessary in producing compost.  Here is how I make a compost pile in my back yard.

I use lots of leaves.  Because my backyard consists of trees and very little open soil, I make a compost pile with what I have plenty of; leaves.  If you don’t have a lawn, you have very little grass, so use what you can.

After spreading about 4 inches of leaves on the ground for a base, I pour about 1/3 cup of leftover 13-13-13 fertilizer on the leaves to act as a starter for the decomposition of the first layer of leaves.  If I had easy access to manure, I would use this instead of a commercial product.

I’ll then toss another 5 to 6 inches of leaves onto the compost pile and then add a quarter cup of fertilizer and keep repeating this until the mound is about 3 feet by 3 feet. This seems to be the optimum size for a mound to properly decompose.

Adding green material is a must for good composting.  Even if you do have grass, kitchen wastes such as potato peelings, onion skins and coffee grounds. Do not throw meat and fatty material on the compost pile because they decompose slowly.   In addition to being unsanitary, they tend to stink up the area and attract raccoons and other varmints.

During the summer months I sometimes drive through the neighborhood and look for plastic bags filled with grass clippings. If I find them I throw them into the back of my truck, hurry home and toss them onto the mound of leaves I’ve been nursing into compost. Autumn corn stalks from a neighbor’s garden, chopped up into smaller pieces, also help add nitrogen to the composting material.

Turning the heap of leaves, grass and corn stalks is a must.  In order to keep proper aeration, I use a shovel to toss the mass of leaves, corn stalks, purple hull pea shells and corn shucks to a new spot next to the existing one. In the summer, there is never a shortage of green plants to spice up the decomposing matter.

Mother Nature uses basically the same process of decomposition to add layers of soil to the earth.  Our compost pile is just a faster method of doing this.  With a minimum amount of work, you can add nutrient rich additives to your garden in just a couple of months.

Making compost isn’t labor intensive and it is fun to get involved in a project to improve the earth in our gardens.  The real reward is when you turn the compost pile for  the last time and see the beautiful black mixture you have help creat for your vegetables without spending extra money.

Bob Alexander is well experienced in outdoor cooking, fishing and leisure living. Bob is also the author and owner of this article. Visit his sites at:

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