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Make Your Own Garden Compost

At an average cost of $7 per 10 gallons, compost can be expensive to buy, but you can easily make your own for free.

Whether you choose to contain the compost in a bin or let it pile up in a corner in your yard is up to you, but most gardeners prefer the tidiness of containing compost in a given location. With no limitations to size, you can create a pile as large as you want as long as it contains the six essential elements that make good compost, according to ezinearticles.com:

• Living organisms - as in nature, living organisms like bacteria and worms process and break down the contents of your pile while leaving behind nutrient-rich compost.

• Oxygen and water work together to activate the rotting process. More importantly they provide the living organisms with what they need to continue thriving.

• Nitrogen comes from all green material that can be composted; epa.gov says that these can be grass clippings, vegetable waste, fruit scraps and coffee grounds. These materials provide food for the bacteria to feast on. Nitrogen rich ingredients should make up approximately 25% of your compost pile, says brgov.com.

• Carbon is all brown material; tree branches, twigs, dead leaves and pine needles.

• Heat allows for production levels to be at their highest- you will notice as you compost year round that you get faster results in the spring and autumn months. According to extension.umn.edu, a working compost heap should read core temperatures between 130-160 degrees Fahrenheit.

As your compost heap develops, if you start to notice unpleasant odors or the core temperature is falling you may want to stir the pile while wetting it to a moist, but not soaked, level.

With the right conditions and proper care you can start using the compost to nourish your garden in about 2-4 months, which is not bad for free. 

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