Making your own compost is probably the simplest way to ensure high-quality compost and save some money. The process really isn't as complicated as you may think; the many commercial composting bins and containers on the market make composting a mess-free, hassle-free process.
When you make compost, you create a pile of material to be composted, mix the materials thoroughly at the correct ratios of carbon (brown stuff) and nitrogen (green stuff) — explained in detail in "Maintaining proper ratios," later in this chapter — and keep the pile watered just enough to keep it moist but with enough air to breathe. Using this method, you can enjoy finished compost a month or two after you start.
Why not just pile the material in the backyard somewhere and let it rot on its own? A pile just thrown together and not maintained may dry out too much for microbes to flourish, or it may stay so wet that the wrong microbes take over. Anaerobic bacterial thrive in saturated conditions, and their presence results in a slimy, sour-smelling pile. Anaerobes don't produce as much heat as aerobic bacteria (see the following section), so they won't kill the weeds and pests, and the pile will take much longer to decompose.
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