To start a compost pile, select a level spot that is convenient to your garden. While flower gardeners try to keep their composting operations out of sight, vegetable gardeners find it's most convenient to make their compost right in the garden or right next to it. (It is best to look for a spot that is shielded from neighbors' yards.) Stash a bale of straw next to your pile so you can easily cover up kitchen scraps whenever you bring them out. You can compost in an open pile or contain your composting operation in a cage, bin, or other structure, either purchased or homemade. A structure makes your composting area look neater, helps keep the materials evenly moist, promotes faster decomposition, and discourages animals from rooting around in the pile. For fast, efficient composting, plan on a pile or enclosure that is 3'-4'/.9-1.2 m square. Two enclosures are best so you can fill up the second one while materials in the first are breaking down.Reprinted from The Veggie Gardener's Answer Book Copyright 2008 by Barbara W. Ellis, with permission from Storey Publishing. Creative Commons photo credit: Daryl Mitchell
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