If you have ever thought about making your own compost, you've probably been turned off by the expensive, time consuming gadgets and methods the "compost gurus" encourage. A compost heap is simple and cheap to make, and your garden will be so much happier for having a little extra nutrition!
Building an Enclosure
There are plans all over the Internet for composting enclosures, and you can invest hundreds of dollars in contraptions that supposedly make it easier for you.
Please save your money. You can build a bottomless enclosure yourself with a few scrap 2x4s and a little hardware cloth. If you're really innovative and can hide your compost enclosure from the neighbors, you could use old window screens.
The point with any enclosure is to keep pesky cats and dogs out and let air and water in. Use anything you like, and make it light and portable. And keep a shovel nearby, so you can stir it easily.
Building the Heap
Choose an out of the way spot in the yard or a corner of the vegetable garden you're leaving fallow. Build the heap right on the ground close to where you'll eventually be using the compost.
Start with "brown" ingredients such as dried grass clippings, corn stalks, shredded leaves, and/or straw. The dried layer can be up to three inches thick.
Make a moist, fresh, "green" layer: fresh grass clippings, kitchen waste, etc. If your green ingredients compact a lot, keep them to 1 inch thick; if you're using tomato stems or green vines, you can add more because they'll compact quickly.
Top the "green" layer with a little dirt, about 1/2 an inch or so. You can add clay to the heap. A light sprinkling of lime or bone meal wouldn't hurt, if you have some lying around.
Repeat layers as needed.
Making your own compost is a simple job, and your garden will be much happier. Keep it simple and enjoy your compost!