Building a “Slow” or “Cold” Compost Pile
Building a compost pile is really quite simple. Deposit grass clippings, leaves and prunings onto a single spot, creating a heap of yard debris. Voila! You have a cold compost pile! It’s that easy. After you build it, there’s little additional work. A cold pile may occasionally develop a foul odor, but you can cure that by turning the pile to introduce fresh air.
Your heap of lawn debris will decompose (i.e., rot) in about 1 to 2 years. When the pile resembles crumbly soil with a rich smell, it’s ready for use. Spread it on your lawn or incorporate it into your garden soil.
Fast Compost Alternative
If you are willing to put some effort into it, you can build a hot compost pile that will decompose much faster than a cold compost pile. If you really work at it, you may get usable compost in as little as 8 weeks rather than waiting 1 to 2 years.
Though you may not always want to follow every step in the process of building a hot pile, I encourage you to do so at least once. The hot pile process is worth learning. Every step of the hot pile process speeds decomposition. That means that when you build a cold pile, you can produce finished compost faster by incorporating any of the hot pile steps. The more hot pile steps you follow, the faster you will have finished compost!
Mary Tynes, Master Composter, www.mastercomposter.com
Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/joi/423508812/