How to Start Composting

You can add kitchen scraps to a commercial compost bin.
You can add kitchen scraps to a commercial compost bin. (Image: Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images)

Composting can be a simple skill to learn, because you mainly need to figure out what to add to your compost bin or pile, while nature takes care of the rest. By composting, you are helping the environment by keeping your kitchen scraps and lawn and garden waste out of a landfill, while significantly improving the quality of your soil at the same time.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost bin
  • Organic waste
  • Pitchfork

Set up a simple compost pile if you want to take a basic approach that requires no construction to get started, unless you are part of a homeowner's association or have finicky neighbors. Make or buy a compost bin if you want your compost contained where animals cannot get in it. A bin helps retain heat and moisture.

Place your compost bin in your backyard, preferably on soil as opposed to concrete or wood to allow access by beneficial microorganisms and worms. For even better results, turn the soil underneath your compost bin to give these little helpers a head start. Find a spot out of direct sunlight to prevent drying out the soil.

Collect kitchen scraps over a few days before adding them to your compost pile. The more material you add at one time the more it heats up your compost. Chop or shred larger items to help them break down more easily.

Place a layer of twigs or straw to the bottom of your bin. Add organic waste from your kitchen and yard. Balance your “greens” and “browns.” Greens include fruit and vegetable scraps, grass clippings, coffee grounds, tea bags and fresh manure. Browns include shredded newspapers and leaves. Greens are high in nitrogen while browns are high in carbon, so you need to add a mixture of both for the best compost.

Layer 4 inches of brown material followed by a thin layer of soil from your garden. Add about 4 inches of green material followed by another thin layer of soil. Alternate layers until the compost bin is full, moistening each layer with water as you go. Add enough water to maintain the bacteria vital to composting but not too much, which can create a stinky, slimy mess.

Turn your compost at least once every two weeks with a pitchfork to provide adequate air circulation. Depending on the materials used, turning frequency and other conditions, you should have nutrient rich compost within six to 12 months. Apply the compost to flowerbeds and gardens, as a potting soil or lawn conditioner.

Tips & Warnings

  • Avoid composting meat, fish, dairy, fats and whole eggs. These materials can "overheat" the pile, become rancid or attract animals. Also, inorganic materials such as plastics, aluminum foil, glass and metals do not break down and should be avoided. Breads and pastas will break down but not very easily and they tend to attract animals. Never use pet and human feces given the potential for disease.

Related Searches


Promoted By Zergnet


You May Also Like

Related Searches

Check It Out

How to Make a Vertical Clay Pot Garden

Is DIY in your DNA? Become part of our maker community.
Submit Your Work!