Questions about compost

I picked setting up an additional compost pile as my One Small Change challenge for January. I've learned a few basics about setting up the pile and I still have a lot of questions that need to be answered.

Things I know:

I can set it up in the woods. It won't be in direct sunlight all year but it should get warm enough to turn into compost. I don't want this new, exposed pile to be right next to the house. We actually have had several compost piles in the woods that have turned into wonderful compost within a year or so. The difference is that those piles consisted of 100% yard waste (leaves), and did not contain kitchen scraps.

The pile doesn't have to be enclosed with a fence. If I had built this pile in the summer or fall, when I could put some stakes in the ground, I would put a barded wire fence around the pile to let the pile grow tall without everything spilling off the sides. When I do take some time later this year to set up another pile back there, I'll do that. But for now, I'll consider this one a small, one-season pile that will be used until I can build a better, more permanent one.

I have to layer the green layers (kitchen scraps) and brown layers (yard waste or newsprint). This leads to a question: What properties do each of those layers have, and why do they have to be layered?

I should keep the fresh green additions (kitchen scraps) covered with a brown layer on top.

I should chop up my kitchen scraps as small as possible in the winter so they'll break down faster.

My questions:

What do the green and brown layers do?

Where am I going to find enough brown material in the dead of winter?

The pile heats up and breaks down the material, turning it into nutrient-rich compost to add to our soil. How does this happen? What is the scientific process?


Stay tuned for some answers, and more questions I'm sure!

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About Me

My name is Jillian. I started this blog as a way to experiment with my camera and it's a become a nice little spot where I enjoy spending time. I'm a mother to 6 and 4 year old daughters, wife to a cool computer guy, and mama to a cuddly cat. We enjoy eating local, organic food; managing several food allergies; homeschooling with love; spending time in nature; and we love to take time each day to be creative. You can also find me over at From Scratch Club from time to time. Welcome!