I am a lazy composter. I don't pay attention to the ratios of greens and browns. I don't turn my compost. I basically make a pile, well, 2 piles and let them rot. But I think that my stuff comes out pretty good in the end.
So here it is, the lazy woman's guide to two methods of making pretty good compost.
First the more complicated method. Start with a big pile of trimmings from oak trees, lavender bushes, and various other twiggy and woody growth. Here's where it gets complicated - send it through a chipper-shredder to turn it into this:
Next, pile it all into a compost bin, preferably adding raw chicken poop as you go. Wet it down as you add layers. Fill the bin to the top, stick a compost thermometer in it and water it every few days.
Watch the temperature soar and then gradually drop. This is my latest pile which got up to 160F and stayed there a few days and over the last few weeks it has been gradually cooling down. Today's temperature....
The chicken poop really makes the pile cook but it is not really necessary, without it my compost didn't get as hot or stay warm as long but I still got good compost in the end. Next I just wait. I don't turn it. I give it some water every once in a while since we don't get summer rain and it will dry out quickly if I forget to water it.
Below is shown a pile that I put together last fall. The bin was originally full and mounded above the top of the bin. It doesn't look all that great at first glance....
But just under all that dry twiggy stuff is black gold. The worms have been hard at work. (If you build it, they will come). I have to admit, the worms are really the key to my success, they do most of the work. And truly, if you build a compost pile and let it sit long enough they will find it, I've never purchased a single worm.
Here's what it looks like when I sift the compost, this is a portion of the vegetable garden that I'm preparing for planting carrots, beets, and parsnips.
There's one downside to putting all that compost that is full of worms into the vegetable garden - moles. You can see a fresh mound at the top right from a mole that is tunneling through the worm buffet (aka my potato bed) that I prepared last week. I'm fed up with the moles and just ordered some heavy duty professional mole traps today.
The chunky stuff that is left after I sift the compost gets strewn around other areas of the garden as mulch, this batch was spread around my new (and struggling) fruit trees.
Lazy Woman's Compost Method #2 requires no special equipment or livestock. Fill a compost bin with anything that doesn't have to go through the chipper-shredder, just keep filling it as it shrinks down (which it does surprisingly fast), and when you just can't add anything else to it then it's time to start another bin. OK, here's the hard part, when I start the new bin I move the top half of the old bin into the bottom of the new bin. You know you've removed enough from the old bin when you run into stuff like this:
I put the chunkiest stuff in the garbage can where the worms can continue working on it and the best stuff goes into the garden. My fruit trees got this load:
Here's the new cold compost pile, which is really just a big open worm factory (and the sow bugs work hard in there as well):
I put all my fruit and vegetable scraps that the chickens won't eat into this bin. Used paper towels also go into this bin, as well as coffee grounds with the filters, tea bags, used loose tea leaves, etc. I generally keep this pile covered. Empty bags that potting soil came in that I cut open so they will lay flat work well. I use rocks to keep the plastic weighted down. I can continue to feed this bin for at least 6 months or more until it won't hold any more.