Ever wonder how your neighbour seems to have a greener hand than you? Well it’s not only a matter of chance, sun exposure or quality of the plants (or either his inner innate skills or his genes). The soil nature also plays an important part in having a blossoming garden. While, for some people, soil is just earth, dull, dead, mud or simply a support to dig in your plants, soil can be seen as a living and all living thing needs to be fed! A simple way of caring for your lawn and which remains pretty affordable is making your own compost at home.

First and for most, spot a nice place where you will start your compost pile. Bear in mind that it should lay on bare earth for more success. This will allow worms and other bugs to aerate the compost and transport nutrients throughout your garden.

Then you should put some twigs or straw, a few inches deep will be ok! This will help aerating and draining the pile.

February 17, 2010- Portland, OR-  Green yard debris roll carts and a new compost pail for the launch of the City of Portland Bureau of Planning & Sustainability's food scrap collection program for residents.

As from now, you can start placing your compost materials in layers, alternating dry and wall. Moist ingredients are excess/waste food, tea bags, seaweed, etc. The dry layer can be made up of straws, leaves, sawdust pellets and wood ashes. If you have wood ashes, sprinkle them all over the pile because they might clump together and take much time to break down.

At this point, you can add manure, green manure (grass clippings, clover, wheatgrass, buckwheat) or any nitrogen source. This will help activating the compost pile and accelerate the whole process along.

Don’t forget to keep the compost moist at all times. If you can’t rely on rain water to do the job for you every week, well, you should think about watering it occasionally for best results. However, you should also consider having something to cover the compost pile and not letting it to open air! Grab anything you might have access to, may it be a plastic sheet, a big wooden board or a used carpet.

Covering is crucial since it will help retaining moisture and heat: these are two essentials for composting. Having your pile covered also prevents all the process to be over-watered by rain, ruing all your efforts. Good composts should be moist but not sodden and soaked

Moreover, the pile should not remain static! If possible, every not and then along the month, consider giving the pile some quick turn either with a shovel or even a pitchfork. This will aerate the pile just as will do the worms and other bugs but in a more effective/visible way. Else from water, oxygen is also needed to the process to work, and by turning the pile, you contribute to “adding” oxygen.

Once this whole setup is established, you can start adding new materials by mixing them in, rather than by adding them in layers as you did for starting. Keep on mixing or turning and your compost will soon be ready for use! Composting can divert as much as 30% of household waste away from the garbage can and offers a natural alternative to chemical fertilizer. This is a simple and responsible way of taking care of your lawn and to some extent… of your planet too!