Compost for Beginners
Many books and articles have been written on the precise way to make compost. They give you exacting rules about materials, green and brown; turning schedules; exact temperatures, moisture levels, and chemistry...It can be a bit much, for beginners or anyone.
Compost purchased from a garden center or cooked up in the backyard is a gardeners most useful material for feeding the soil that will feed the garden plants. But one doesn't need a college degree or a big budget to make good compost.
The laid back way to make compost won't give you compost immediately, but it won't give you a headache either. And it mainly uses a material that is often plentiful and free.
Grass clippings...wow! What a nitrogen rich, natural, organic material and many folks bag it and throw it away.
So start by collecting some grass, just be sure it hasn't been sprayed in the last couple of months with pesticides or herbicides. Pile it up at least four feet high in your composting area. You can build or fence in a four by four foot compost bin or just let the pile hang out, maybe with some tree branches laid around the sides to keep it from blowing away.
Then what you need is time. Of course, you can keep adding organic materials to pile such as leaves, dead plant materials, old vegetables, manure.
Experts on composting say that you need to layer the compost pile as you build it, have it reach a specific internal temperature, and turn it inside out on a regular schedule. All piles of rotting material heat up. The perfect compost pile reaches internal temperatures of 160 degrees F which is hot enough to kill off many insects, some weed seeds, and even some micro-organisms. High temperatures will also speed up the composting process.
However, any pile made largely of grass clippings will start rotting immediately and will make compost within six months. It is up to you if you want to sweat all the details to get the perfect compost in a couple of months.