How to Compost


How to compost and what do I need to get started?

Bullet An outside location for your compost pile, pail, or bin. Even the smallest patio or balcony can usually house a bin. A shady location helps your compost from drying out.
Bullet A bin, pail, or enclosure. We'll cover the many options for your bin/enclosure later. This is optional if you would rather simply use a pile.
Bullet A shovel, pitch fork, or other tool to stir the compost.
Bullet Food waste and yard waste.

When discussing how to compost, we need to understand that there are many different methods. Each has it's own advantages and disadvantages. Usually the primary difference between methods is the length of time for your pile to turn into usable compost.

The slower methods typically require the least amount of maintenance while the faster methods require more of your attention. 

Compost mixtures can be ready to use in as long as a year or as quickly as 14 days. The amount of time required depends on your ingredients, your bin, the moisture content and temperature of your mixture, and how often you turn or aerate your mixture.

Bullet The method I use involves beginning my pile with a good bit of "brown" material, ingredients such as soil, mulch, peat moss, leaves, twigs, etc. These items help keep odors in your pile at bay.
Bullet Add a bit of water to your brown material. It only needs to be moist, not wet.
Bullet I keep a container in my kitchen where I keep my food waste temporarily until I can take it to the pile at the end of the day. I just use a big round Tupperware container, but you can use anything that works for you.
Bullet At the end of each day I take my container and empty it onto the pile. A few times a week, I use my shovel to give the pile a good stir.
Bullet If my pile ever appears to be drying out, I add a bit of water to it.
Bullet When my bin is about 3/4 full, I stop adding to the pile and begin a new pile while continuing to stir and monitor moisture in my first pile.
Bullet When my original pile has turned into a beautiful brown crumbly material, its ready to use.
Bullet Spread it around your trees, garden, flower beds to provide them a nutrient rich organic mulch.

How to compost with faster results -
Helping your pile along...

Bullet Mow over your leaves or soak them in water overnight before adding them to your mixture.
Bullet Use a blender or food processor to create smaller food waste particles.
Bullet Ensure that your mixture remains moist.
Bullet Turn your mixture regularly (at least once a week).
Bullet Use vermicomposting, or composting with worms. For more information, see our site's information on worm compost.

Next - What type of bin or container should I use?

More Information on Composting

Make Compost
Make compost from your kitchen scraps and yard waste. Reduce your waste while providing nutrients for your plants and garden.

What to Compost
Provides specific information on what to compost and what not to compost.

Worm Compost
Provides information on how to compost with worms, or vermicompost. Learn why you might want to include red wigglers in your compost plans.

Compost Bins
Provides information on several types of compost bins, including pros and cons of each. Learn how to make your own bin and find information on the best pre-fabricated bins.

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