Compost Pile

My husband and I have wanted to build a better compost pile for a few years now.

by Jessica Walliser
Jessica's compost bin is in need of a size upgrade
Photo by Jessica Walliser

My husband and I have wanted to build a better compost pile for a few years now.  We do have a standard compost bin right in the veggie garden to collect whatever scraps the chickens aren’t interested in and it’s been great, but we need more—more space and more finished compost. 

It’s been our (mostly my) habit the past few years to dump any collected debris over the fence and let it break down in its own time.  Certainly not a good system considering that the woods now look a little ‘junked up’ and no usable compost is being produced. 

As we were doing the seemingly endless leaf clean-up last fall, John dumped the tractor carts full of leaves into a big pile in the woods just outside the back gate.  And I emptied three carts full of debris from the perennial gardens there too.  It’s quite a nice pile now; several feet high.  I’m certainly not turning it or anything, but I know that eventually it will become beautiful, useable compost. 

So now the topic has become building some sort of containment system for it so that we might continue to dump organic material there and create a huge compost system instead of tossing stuff over the fence.  We both have always wanted to do it, but as with everything else around here, time seems to run out before we get it done.

We’ve discussed using cement blocks to contain it but we don’t want to buy them and lug them all the way up the back hill.  Railroad ties are out for the same reason.  A friend suggested using wooden pallets wired together—a good idea if I can find them and I am absolutely sure they didn’t once hold chemicals of one sort or another. 

Yesterday I went back to the pile for the first time since last autumn and I saw that my smarty pants husband has already got a jump on it with the perfect material—pieces of tree trunk.  Last year we had a gigantic ash tree removed from the yard. 

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So much of the trunk was too large to split without the right power equipment so he took all those leftover pieces and built a ‘wall’ across the back and sides of the compost pile. Brilliant!    

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