The four elements of compost: Brown materials (leaves), green materials (grass), water and air.
Long before it became a ’90s buzzword, composting was something we just did. On my family’s farm we had to make the most efficient use of all our resources. The vegetable scraps, the rabbit manure and the animal bedding all went into the pile, there to decay naturally into a fine, dark, moist and crumbly substance.
We did not have any rules for how high it could be piled or how much we could add of one thing versus another. Compost just happened, and when it got to the stage where grapefruit rinds and eggshells were no longer recognizable, it was spread out on the flower beds and the two-acre vegetable garden and tilled in. It improved the structure, water-holding capacity and aeration of the soil in which we grew our food. It buffered the garden from freezing and thawing, slowed erosion and supplied our crops with some nutrients. Not bad for a heap of “garbage.”
Composting was easy for us, and it can be for you, too. It’s not rocket science—just a natural process you can coax to make it happen faster. Even if you set it up without the perfect ingredients or conditions, it’s hard to fail.