Compost: The Foundation of a Thriving Homestead

Compost: The Foundation of a Thriving Homestead

What composting means to us at Strand Farm, is the creation of high quality soil out of what is already laying around the homestead. What are the components of high quality growing soil? The concept is basic. Mix carbon, nitrogen, and water in a large enough mass and in the right quantities to encourage decomposers to enter and therefore make a home out of it. The decomposers then convert this mix into a new growing substrate for future plants. After we combine the base ingredients, we become the stewards by observing and assisting the natural process. Over our time researching "best composting method" we found ourselves following in the footsteps of Perma Pastures Farm. Not only are they in the same growing region as us, but they also have an outlook on permaculture that resonates with what we're trying to accomplish here at Strand Farm. They create heaps of high quality soil for their permaculture projects through what they have coined "The Chicken Tractor on Steroids 3.0" method. We started out by emulating their composting method. As we continue to research the topic of compost and learn from what works on our land, we make adjustments to our process. Perfecting compost will be a lifelong journey for our homestead.


The best houses are built on solid foundations. Think of your garden as a house for your plants and the soil as the foundation. It is no different. Often, unfortunately, the soil found in the backyard is far from a solid foundation to build a garden upon. Topsoil is depleted and contaminated with the same contaminants the human body is exposed to. Most of our lawns have awful soil due to chemical agents and monocropping (yup that lush weed-free grass lawn is a monocrop). A lack of plant diversity will easily over-leverage your soil, deplete it, and make it vulnerable to pests/disease. By making compost and using it, you are restoring balance. You are assisting in the creation of a foundation your gardens can flourish on for seasons to come.


You can read books and watch YouTubes all day but until you get your hands in the soil where you live and find out what works in your yard, theory will only get you so far. Since we opted to go all in into homesteading, we do both and more.

"The best compost for the lands is the wise master's feet and hands." - Robt, Herrick

While we have not been in one place long enough to master the process, we know we are well on our way due to our initial success with it. At Strand Farm, we use mostly leaf material for our carbon with some food scrap + chicken poop for our nitrogen, and spring water or rain for moisture. We add to our pile slowly in the duration of a week or two and flip it weekly. Our chickens assist with agitating the pile and we add water as necessary. Every couple of weeks we start a new pile. The whole time, our chickens are also scratching through the pile and breaking down the carbon. We've had success with a dozen hens and a 3 foot diameter compost ring (our old YouTube video playlist) and have recently had even better results with a 6 foot diameter compost ring. It is to our understanding that a pile that's ~1 cubic meter in size will compost most efficiently. If the pile is too small then it won't won't be able to generate and maintain the optimum heat. Too large and your pile can start on fire! You can know how to make compost and when to use it without understanding how it works at a molecular level. However, a gradual development of your understanding of the underlying mechanisms, principles, and intricacies of composting will grant you compost mastery. Right now, in the composting book I am reading, they are discussing the 17 Checkpoints of Ideal Compost. Such a fantastic rabbit hole to go down!


Always compost. However, since moving to our homestead this past fall, we've had limited success with the year-round process. We've been running around like chickens with their heads cut off learning all aspects of homesteading on the fly. We lost the heat in our compost pile back when our water pipes froze in our RV but that pile was at the end of it's active composting stage anyway. There are people out there with compost piles that produce enough warmth to create hot water for their homesteads in the winter. We are not at that level but with year round practice we will get to that level if we decide that is how we want to use it. Even if you cannot get a compost pile up to temperature for accelerated soil making, a cold pile will still compost over time and is better than doing nothing at all.


You can spend a ton of money on composting equipment. Thermometers, moisture-meters, leaf-mulchers, special containers, waterers, the list goes on and on. THEY want you to think the barrier to entry is higher than the cost of buying pre-packaged composting soil. Before we were composters, we spent about $500 on commercial organic compost for our 6 (4ftx8ft) garden beds in one season.

"We cannot afford NOT to make compost."
- this Simple Norwegian Farmer

Since we've moved to Strand Farm, we've created the same amount of high quality compost as we had purchased before but with what we have laying around on our homestead. Once we add our next batch of chickens this spring, we'll really be producing. The truth is you need fresh water, a nitrogen source (food waste, chicken poop, cow droppings, etc.), and a carbon source (food waste, leaves/straw/grass etc.), with a touch of sweat-equity to make a successful compost pile.


  • Cardboard
  • Stakes (sticks)
  • Rake
  • Pitchfork
  • Water Bucket
Ashley built a simple 6 foot composting ring. "Thanks for the cardboard Mom!" -Ash


Absolutely. We have been making our own compost for less than half a year and while we are still learning (and making mistakes), we've created a few cubic yards of fantastically rich, loamy, black soil that we are proud to spread in our garden. When that steam comes billowing out of your pile on the first flip, you know something magical is happening under your feet. The longer we practice composting, the better we will get at it. It has become one of our favorite activities on our homestead insofar.


It is time to take soil regeneration into our own hands. Stop shoveling money hand over fist to someone for something that you can make on your own. At the end of the day, importing finished compost that was not created on your land may not work as well, and possibly even hurt your plants. Your biome will create the best compost for your plants. The best food is made in your kitchen just as the best compost is made in your yard. Be the producer, not the consumer.

If you decide to go out and try composting for yourself, let us know. We would love to discuss your process with you and at a minimum provide you resources to help you get your pile rolling. The best way to grow independent is to do it together! Strand Farm provides the ingredients for the perfect "mind compost." Your passion for independence is activating as you read this. Now go out there and build that foundation!