Compost is a soft, crumbly, brownish or blackish substance when properly made. As landfills are needed for waste and many live where burning is prohibited, composting offers a good way for disposing of vegetation. For an average garden, the gardener should stack material four to six feet high in an enclosure that has an opening with sides so that air can circulate. A slatted bin or wire mesh cylinder will work nicely. Larger, coarse pieces decompose slowly, so you should chop them up before adding them to the compost pile. A good mixture will be about equal parts of green and dried materials. It should be kept as wet as a squeezed-out sponge. The center will decompose more rapidly than will the sides, so you should turn the materials once a week and water as needed. A few handfuls of complete fertilizer added with every sizeable load of raw material will aid decomposition. Compost additives have proven to be of little benefit, but a handful of dirt works well.
Composting can be a sophisticated operation, or it can be as simple as creating a pile of waste on the ground. Either way, it will become gardeners’ gold.
Carl Caskey, Smith County Master Gardener
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service