Maggie L. Moor-Orth Delaware Cooperative Extension
all available plant material. The top should have a concave center causing the water to move in rather than drain off.
Water the pile as necessary to maintain relatively high moisture content.
Air circulation is another requirement for a compost pile. Because the outer edges of a pile tend to dry out quicker, they should be turned inward toward the center. This practice also accelerates the decaying process as it increases air space.
The compost is ready to use when the material is crumbly and dark brown. The texture should be relatively uniform, but do not worry if there is a discriminate leaf or stalk.
Heat causes material to decay faster; therefore, the entire process may take approximately two months in the summer and much longer in the winter.
Again, I started composting a long time ago and always add a scoop or shovel full when I plant anything in my landscape and/or gardens. It is easy, and if you are bagging up your fallen leaves to send to the landfill, why not consider the environment by starting a compost pile to recycle those plant nutrients? For more information on composting, in Kent County call 302-730-4000 or 302-857-6426, and in Sussex County call 302-856-7303.
Master Gardener tip: The Kent Master Gardener Annual Scholarship Plant Sale will be held Saturday, April 24, 2010 from 8:00 AM to 12:00 Noon at the Research Greenhouse on the campus of Delaware State University at 1200 N. DuPont Highway in Dover, Delaware.