University of Illinois Extension

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Also called "gardeners' gold," compost is a mixture of garden scraps and kitchen vegetable scraps that rot and makes your soil better. Some gardeners make compost piles, and you might want to start one if you have room. If not,you can usually buy compost, or some towns have it available for free.

Compost Pile

A compost pile is built in layers like a fancy birthday cake. Start off with about 6-8 inches of garden scraps. Then sprinkle a handful of fertilizer on top. This helps feed the organisms that will break the scraps down. Add a two inch layer of soil. The soil gets organisms into the pile. Build up several layers. To speed up the decaying process, after several weeks turn the pile with a shovel to get air in the compost pile. Compost is ready when it is crumbly and has that "earthy" smell. It may take several months before compost is ready, but the wait will be well worth it and your garden will thank you with the best looking flowers and vegetables.

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