Reading multiple entries here and a few others onlne, I have noticed people writing about using dirt/soil in their compost piles/heaps/bins. I had never heard of putting either dirt or soil in a composting bin. I can understand using a low fertility blow sand/silt - dirt just to build a bulk or mass that the compost could improve upon, but why add soil?

Many sources tell that, "Dirt is dead" and "Soil is alive". That is taking things to an extreme; while I do agree that soil is vibrant, and yet dirt is far from dead because you can improve dirt into soil in a few months. Dead means dead. We need to change the way we word what dirt honestly means.

So why put either into a compost bin/pile/heap?


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Composting is usually a layering of green high-nitrogen materials with brown high-carbon materials. Leaves tend to take longer to break down in a low nitrogen environment and work best when shredded so their breakdown is started mechanically. Also, their breakdown is best facilitated by fungal content to the heap.

Why use soil/dirt in your compost? Dirt isn't necessarily dead, it contains plenty of bacteria/fungi and you use it as the starter for the whole decomposition process. Sprinkle it into the mix to get things started. As you improve your soil, you'll find that including it into the compost mix is like dumping yeast into baking dough.

Yes, you can make sourdough by exposing a flour/water mixture to air so the natural yeasts get a foot hold (what you do when you sprinkle dirt in the layers) but in this modern age, people want things to go quicker, so they use yeast packets (healthy soil, inoculation from the aged compost pile) to get a jump-start on the process. The bacteria to fungi ratio helps get those leaves eaten up in six months instead of two years if you get the mix of green/brown with a healthy soil starter right.


A little sprinkle of dry molasses then a thin layer of dirt helps keep birds from eating dry molasses and works as a great addition to my leaves (pecan, oak, bois d'arc, etc.) lawn clippings, spent flowers + coffee grounds and egg shells. Worms love it!

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