I have two compost piles: Pile #1, to which I am active adding stuff, and Pile #2, which has been sitting over the winter, and is by spring or summer ready and waiting for me to dig out the good compost and add it to my garden.

On the active pile, I continuously add layers (sometimes it seems mountains) of weeds (including the dirt clumps around their roots), kitchen scraps, and paper and cardboard. Autumn leaves when I can get them. Garden remains (old tomato vines etc) as they come available. Just about anything that decomposes is compostable, so it’s fine to add even those things one might not normally consider: cat hair (because oh yes do they shed), used paper plates… anything to add to the goodness.

I turn the pile a couple times a year (if I’m feeling motivated), but mostly I treat it as a slow compost and just leave it to do it’s thing.  It takes longer and the weed seeds may not all cook, but given enough time it all turns into beautiful crumbly goodness for the garden beds. I can tell when it’s ready because it will be absolutely loaded with fat earthworms that all show up on their own.

I’ve also started growing comfrey as a garden addition, though I have not yet decided whether I will add it to the compost pile or if I will instead either A) mulch with it or B) make compost tea for the garden.

Around mid to late summer I dig out all the good compost from Pile #2 and add it to wherever needs feeding. I then flip Pile #1 over onto the Hole Formerly Known as Compost Pile #2 (so the freshest stuff is at the bottom), dig out any fully composted stuff from the bottom of Pile #1, and start over adding weeds / cardboard / etc. I don’t calibrate layers, so it could be a thick layer of cardboard followed by 3 or 5 wheelbarrows full of weeds and a large bowl of kitchen scraps and then a bag of newspapers, but it works for me, my energy level and available time for babysitting my compost.

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