Compost pile.

Rural Compost Difficulties

Rural Compost Difficulties

Composting is one of the most important tools we have for building soil and keeping fertility on our land. There are lots of ways to compost and many guides and opinions on how and what to compost. It’s easy to start and within a few months, you can be reaping the benefits of your own home-made compost.

Our first compost pile

When we first arrived on our homestead establishing a compost pile was one of our first priorities. We fenced in a 5×5 area and started filling it with kitchen scraps and tons upon tons of leaves. We managed to fill the entire 5×5 just with the leaves from a small portion of our driveway!

Leaves are a great source of carbon for the compost pile. Image by Birgit Böllinger from Pixabay
Leaves are a great source of carbon for the compost pile. Image by Birgit Böllinger from Pixabay

We got the pile good and wet, then let it sit to get hot and start breaking down. We checked on the compost pile excitedly once or twice a week to see if things were warming up yet with growing anticipation, but nothing seemed to be happening. So we looked up gardening advice from pros like David the Good and Rob Greenfield.

Hunting for heat

Turns out we didn’t have enough nitrogen mixed in with all those leaves for things to get really hot. So we started throwing urine into the pile and looking for sources of coffee grounds and other organic matter to add to our pile close by.

Coffee grounds are rich in nitrogen and can get a compost pile hot fast. Image by Jonny Lindner from Pixabay
Coffee grounds are rich in nitrogen and can get a compost pile hot fast. Image by Jonny Lindner from Pixabay

We started by calling local grocery stores to see if they had rotten produce. This is a common way to get lots of free compost material and save it from the dump. We soon learned however that every grocery store had an arrangement with local pig farmers to pick up their produce.

Slightly disappointed we started looking for coffee shops so we could get coffee grounds. Only to discover there are no dedicated coffee shops nearby. So we had to broaden our search and lower our standards if we wanted to get those coffee grounds.

Some unexpected sources

After numerous phone calls, Sarah was able to put together a shortlist of places we could pick up some coffee grounds. That list is McDonald’s, Shell, and a local breakfast diner. The dinner is even throwing in some other kitchen scraps when they remember.

While these aren’t the sources we expected to find we’re happy to have them. So is the compost pile which is heating up nicely now! This was a reminder to us to be creative when looking for resources.

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