I have two compost piles; one pile is next to the chicken coop and is available to the chickens to scratch and pick through year-round. This is where I throw all used chicken bedding, kitchen scraps, leaves, and freshly picked non-seeding weeds. The remainder goes in the black plastic composter to the right where I put anything I don’t want the chickens munching on such as used coffee grounds and moldy or rotted veggies. I then add the proper amount of carbon from the first compost pile in order to keep the second bin actively working.
I pull from the compost bins (whether the compost is finished or not!) in the autumn and layer it on top of the garden beds before covering it up with a straw or leaf mulch for the winter. Throughout the winter months the soil critters work through it and create rich soil right there where I want my veggies to grow! In only 2 seasons of mulching, composting and chop-and-drop mulching, I have more earthworms than I know what to do with! In the early spring you can stand outside our kitchen door at dusk and listen to the surprisingly loud rustling all around you as the garden comes to life with crawling, munching worms and bugs. It’s 10% creepy, 90% awe inspiring to hear.
I’m unreasonably stubborn when I’m trying to learn new things so I’m refusing to add any outsourced fertilizer to our property because it forces me to learn to perfect the compost process. We are starting to get low on nitrogen this summer (as you can tell from the light green-colored plants) so that will be the incentive to really work on my compost through the winter. I’ll aim to make as much as I can as quickly as possible so I’ll have enough come spring to top dress plants in need. I’ll aim to use a hot compost process whenever I have the necessary resources available all at once.