I’ve found that composting can be as easy or as complicated as you want it to be. If you’re a lazy composter, you’ll have slower turnover, and probably, more weed seeds in the compost. There are a few general rules:
- If you want to kill weed seeds, it’s important to let your pile get pretty hot. Locating your compost bin in full sun really helps. So does fresh manure from chickens or other livestock. You also need a critical mass of decomposing material to generate enough heat to kill weed seeds. 4×4 square and at least 2-3 feet deep usually seems to work well.
- More finely shredded material composts more quickly, but for me, it’s too much hassle. I just throw everything on, and let the microbes do the work. With this caveat, however: woody material can actually decrease the nitrogen content of the compost.
- Keeping the compost pile moist and turning over the material will speed decomposition.
- Smelly stuff will bring in the raccoons; doesn’t bother me much, though.
I’ve never been fond of gadgety composters. They’re usually not very scenic, and are also usually too small. For me, any bin with easy access from one side, will do. It’s nice to have a series of bins for progressively more decomposed material. I usually have several composting areas around the property. One is right outside my side door, so that I can drop kithen scraps into it from the porch. Another, I use for garden debris. I have one for fall leaves, to make leaf mold for making organic fertilizer. And I usually have one for larger woody debris that won’t break down readily.
I realize that this is fairly vague advice, but after many years, I’ve found that the lower tech, less fussy designs are the best. That having been said, there are several good books on composting, if you want to be a composting artist. Let It Rot is fairly popular around the horticultural crowd.