in Santa Rosa, CA
Day 1
of Composting
in a Northern California suburb

The day before Day 1, I gathered up the oak leaves and twigs from my backyard.

I found a shady east-side area for the new pile, a no man's land where no one ever looks or goes.
The high fence and the house provide shade in the hot afternoon, but there is morning sun.

1st layer: Dried oak leaves, about 5 months old. Twigs at the bottom for aeration


2nd Layer: Nitrogen rich fresh grass clippings mixed with leaf blower harvest, and a few thrown away house plants. I'll chop the twigs down with hedge clippers before adding layer 3.

Our neighbors responded to my email APB: "calling all yard waste." We don't have a grass lawn, so thanks neighbors.


3rd Layer: Nitrogen rich manure from a grain eating herbovore. In this case, chickens. After chopping the twigs and branches, I dumped a bag of $3.79 organic chicken manure on the lot.
A bit smelly at first.

4th Layer: Kitchen waste. Now it gets interesting. There are things you probably throw away every day that would be great in a compost pile. The Compost Scientists say a 25:1 - 30:1 Carbon:Nitrogen ratio is optimum for the quickest transformation into the ideal finished product.

If you're curious, here is a list of weird things that bacteria and worms find yummy.

I 5th layer: finished organic soil.
I don't want my raw kitchen compost waste to be attracting curious possums, rats or fruit flies. So I covered it with sweet organic potting soil by my favorite soil guys: Happy Frog.

6th layer: WATER. Now I water the whole pile slightly. Those who know say the ideal is a wrung out dish rag: moist but not dripping wet.

That's enough for Day 1, don't you think? Stay tuned to the backyard adventures of a newbie composter.
Happy Gardening!

On day 2 I just admired my compost pile. So let's move on to Day 3.