City of Tempe, Arizona Gives FREE COMPOST to its Residents – Awesome

Here’s a pretty cool video showing the compost facility side of things in a series of phases.

I was surprised when the dude mentions the piles cooking at 165F- that’s well above any temperatures needed for thermophilic kill.

Stoked that Tempe has rolled out a proper composting program.

“Slash the trash!”

The #1 Secret to Get Your Compost Pile Cooking!

Leaves are the most important ingredient to make excellent compost.  While they will compost just as they are, shredding them will increase the efficiency of your pile.

Collect as many leaves as possible during the fall to keep your compost pile cooking through the colder months.

My goal is to show you how to create the best compost with the least amount of time and effort.  Let’s cut down on what we send to the landfill and create an excellent soil amendment to grow your plants.

This is just the start of it- stay tuned for even more composting tips!

Be sure to sign up for my free composting course along the right side of this page.

Let me know how your composting is going- I’d love to hear from you.

Leaf Shredding Season!

three bags and shredder-after

The leaves are falling- I hope you’re like me and are frantically collecting them for composting.

When I got my leaf shredder, I remember reading something saying 7 bags of unshredded leaves will fit in one single bag… I don’t know about that.

Regardless, I got three relatively large bags into this one big bag.

It saves me space, and more importantly I can get my compost pile cooking.

I’ve been neglecting shredding for several months, as I wanted to compost as if I don’t own a shredder like most people.

My pile has shown this change, as it has only been cooking in the 90F – 110F range instead of the usual 130F+.

Another cool benefit to shredding is that when you add a layer to the compost pile, you can easily spot twigs and sticks that you’d otherwise miss from dumping in a bag of unshredded leaves.

My next post will focus on whether or not my pile jumps in temperature the way I’ve predicted…stay tuned.

I love the fall…tis the season for composting!

Grubs in my Compost?


What an interesting critter.  There’s TONS of 1″ long grubs in my current active pile, but there were none to be found in my finished compost pile… or so I thought.

I found two of these guys… they’re closer to 1.5″ and have nearly transparent rear ends.  The orange heads are pretty trippy.

Are they good or bad?

I don’t really care.  Compost piles are ecosystems and they’re clearly eating the decaying organic matter in there… nothing wrong with that.

How to Collect a Soil or Compost Sample


It really is that simple, right?

Dig just under the top layer in a few spots, dump into a bag.

While I’m not going with this particular lab, I was doing some comparative research on techniques although there’s not much to it.

I got my cooler packs, my quart-sized ziploc bags and a trowel.

I’m going to take a sample from the middle, but I’m more interested in the materials that are on the outer edges of the pile.

These particular areas are where it’s not as likely that the higher register of thermophilic activity was able to reach.

I’m still not worried, but I’d like to make my test as honest as I can get it.  The stuff from the center of the pile will be thoroughly cooked, so when that comes back looking fine I won’t be surprised.

Have you ever seen someone so excited about soil tests?

Skeletons in my Compost!

IMG_2333I stopped adding to my “cured” compost bin just over a year ago- it’s had plenty of time to cure, cool down and break down.

It’s strange how compost piles age- all the non-compost stuff seems to bubble up to the surface, like tires rise to the surface in a landfill.

Can you guess what this glob of green stuff is in my hand?

It’s the remains of a compostable garbage bag.

Where’s the rest of it?  Has it degraded safely and completely?  What’s up with the stuff in my hand?  What other stuff is in here?

I really don’t remember what I put in my compost pile… I’m making that pledge right now that when I empty this one and start it all over soon, I’m keeping a clipboard with any oddball entries logged!

I added so many paper products with plastic liners, various samples of supposedly compostable bags, plus leaves I swept off the street which inevitably contain bits and pieces of trash.

I knew this going into it- I could take the extra steps to make my pile as clean as possible, but I’d rather it be a process out of practicality.

I’ve had a few people email me saying I’m crazy adding leaves off the street to my compost pile because they’re “hazardous”.  If that’s the case, we’d better just stop composting all together!

The way things are now with plastic contamination and just the overall spread of various debris in all sizes, I prefer the perspective of acknowledging it’s there and simply minimizing it to the best of my ability.  That’s my goal for this next pile.

Over the last two years, I’ve learned that while bioplastic products may have decent intentions, they should also ultimately be avoided.

While it’s not easy to just write off plastic altogether and live a plastic free life (go Beth!), it’s easy to make solid decisions and directly control your compost pile environment.

This next pile I build is going to be so much better than this one.

Composting Made Simple.