An Autumn Compost is a Strong Start to a Spring Bed

compost pile

Autumn is heaven for compost makers, there’s heaps of stuff begging to be composted. Make use of all of it – dont throw it away!, and prep for spring planting at the same time. My kind of compost piles are easily put together, followed by put your feet up and let nature do the work.

It makes sense to position your heap where you’ll reap the benefits – a pile of rotting organic matter draws worms and a multitude of beneficial soil life There’s lots of options here-

  • revive a tired bed by building a compost directly on top of it. I love this because there is no double handling, simply spread it out when its ready.
  • a compost is a brilliant pre cursor to new plantings of citrus, avocado or other hungry subtropicals.
  • make compost piles around the edge of the veggie patch where any run off is gratefully received and its not too far to collect the finished product.
  • begin no dig vegie beds with a homemade compost pile – its the best + my favourite way! Because the compost pile eliminates light + air the grass beneath is killed off without the insanity of spraying or digging. Pernicious weeds like convulvulus or blackberry do need to be grubbed out and eliminated first.

How to

path clearings mulch

Gather organic matter and as you go, roughly chop into the barrow or bucket:

  • finished crops and flowers – beans, tomatoes, zucchini, squash vines, dahlias, anenomes, zinnias et all.
  • weeds (no reproductive bits of those you don’t want to return)
  • path clearings
  • leaves, long grass, small soft prunings
  • foraged treasure
a finished compost pile ready to be covered

Aerating the area first is a must do if the soil is poorly drained.

  • If you are building your compost on top of lawn/ grass, begin with a generous layer of cardboard/ newspaper/ old towels – whatever you’ve got.
  • Skip this bit if you are building your pile on top of an existing garden or cleared space.

Toss all your collected organic matter together and stack it up into a square. Make it a minimum of 1 metre high. No maximum! Here’s my simple compost building ways.

The next step is to inspire life to come in droves. Truth is, the slightest whiff of organic matter and lifes there – in the blink of an eye, but lets really get things going by drenching your newly formed pile with whatever juicy liquid you have on the go – a bucket of EM or worm wees or liquid feed or water with a big tablespoon of molasses dissolved in it.

Then cover it. This is essential. My favourite cover, because its just too damn easy – is a fadge (a wool sack). You could also use a thick layer of straw/ hay or an old blanket or shade cloth.

A fadge covers the compost at Edible Backyard

In many months time, when the pile is broken down, you can plant directly into it. You’ll reap 2 crops, one after the other with no other additions required. Then it’ll need reviving with a greencrop or by spreading a layer of finished compost.

You can steadily, over time create all your vegie beds in this wonderful way by making a new pile every month, for example. Once your vegie beds are all made, continue to make compost in bins, as your best ever soil food.

Even if you cannot make enough compost for your needs, its still super valuable as an innoculation for bought compost. Mix it through, adding life and energy where there is none.


  1. Karen Gillooly says

    Hi Cath,

    Where do you get the wool sacks from, and what could I use as an alternative. Many thanks.

  2. Karen Gillooly says

    Brilliant. Thank you so much Kath.

  3. Laurie Bonsor says

    Could you use those big dod biscuit bags??


  4. Jonathan says

    We use a circle of reinforcing mesh, about 1 m high, line it with a strip of old wind cloth. I put layers of lawn clippings/fallen leaves (mowed up all together to aid mixing) and garden waste/chipped branches and prunings. It get very hot in a few days and shrinks down to a half. Cover with cardboard and an old tarp.

  5. Hi Kath.

    I’m being cheeky and asking a question not (directly) relevant to this post as I couldn’t find a contact on your websites.

    My question is: Are you planning on doing another run of your pruning book? I’d like to buy a few copies, one for me and a couple for family members.

    Cheers! πŸ™‚

    • Not cheeky – yes I sold out! First time ever to run out – caught me unawares but theres more arriving this week so we’ll be back in biz sometime very soon Louise!

      • Oh, how about yr edible garden book – is this getting restocked as well? Would prefer to buy directly from you 😁

      • Brilliant thanks, I’ll keep an eye out πŸ™‚

  6. Hi Kath, is it ok to use ginger plants to make compost?

    • Hey Libby – the tops are sweet as long as they dont have seeds. The roots are not. Use this to self assess whatever plants you want to compost – if the roots will grow in the compost heap, dont add them in!