Requirements for Proper Composting

Shredded Organic Waste

Shredding, chopping or even bruising organic materials hastens decay. One way to shred leaves is to mow the lawn before raking, collecting the shredded leaves in the mower bag. It takes at least 3-4 cubic feet of shredded material to form a compost pile.
 
Good Location   
The compost pile should be located in a warm area and protected from overexposure to wind and too much direct sunlight. While heat and air facilitate composting, overexposure dries the materials. The locations should not offend neighbors.
 
Nitrogen 
Nitrogen accelerates composting. Good sources include fresh grass clippings, manure, blood meal and nitrogenous fertilizer. Lime should be used sparingly if at all. It enhances decomposition, but too much causes nitrogen loss, and it usually isn't necessary unless the pile contains large amounts of pine and spruce needles or fruit wastes.
Air  
The compost pile and its enclosure should be well ventilated. Some decay will occur without oxygen, but the process is slow and causes odors.
 
Water
Materials in the compost pile should be kept as moist as a squeezed sponge. Too little or too much water retards decomposition. Overwatering causes odors and loss of nutrients.
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