A compost bin can be made at any time of the year, but autumn is a time when both “green” nitrogen and “brown” carbon materials are readily available. The bins are often made from plastic or structured from wooden pallets. Sometimes it is sufficient to pile the organic material in a corner of the garden to rot. The last grass clippings of the season and fallen leaves make a great start for any compost bin.
Compost is excellent for returning valuable nutrients to the soil, acting as a wonderful slow-release organic fertilizer. It is important to avoid putting diseased/infested plant material in any compost bin. The spores can re-infect plants in the spring when the compost is used in the garden beds.
A better compost pile often begins with the right site. Building compost piles near a vegetable garden is favourable so as not to have to drag finished compost across the garden in order to use it. Bins are often located in an area that offers at least half a day of sunshine. The sun helps speed up the decomposition process. Full sun can dry out the pile. Organic materials composting in the shade can take longer.
It is an idea to aim to add three times the amount of carbon materials than nitrogen-based ingredients in order to help the compost pile heat up and keep the microbes well fed.
Garden clippings, disease-free plant materials, vegetable peelings, crushed eggshells, coffee grounds and tea leaves, seaweed, leaves and other natural materials can be added to a compost bin. It is good to shred hard stalks and stems before adding them to the pile. Perennial weeds or those with seed heads should never be added. Keep materials set aside, enough to build a heap at least two or three feet high in order for it to heat up quickly and easy enough to be turned every few weeks.