A Beginner’s Guide to Composting at Home

There is nothing quite as satisfying as being able to walk into your backyard and pick fresh produce and flowers that you have grown yourself. This year, you can take your gardening game up a notch and save some money by creating your own nutrient rich topsoil through composting. You might be surprised to learn just how easy it is to recycle your food scraps and create ready-to-use soil. Our beginner’s composting guide can help you start your summer garden off right.


Step 1: Pick a Location

The perfect place for your compost pile or bin is in a shady spot that is close to a water source. You will need to add water throughout the process, so save yourself the trouble of lugging around buckets or dragging out the hose by placing your composting location close to water.


Step 2: Choose Composting Materials

When it comes to understanding what you can compost, think natural, plant-based materials. You will also want to try to maintain equal parts of brown and green scraps.

  • Brown materials include yard waste, such as dead leaves and twigs and produce carbon.
  • Green materials create vital nitrogen and mostly include waste that is created in the home, especially the kitchen. Fruits, vegetables, grass clippings and even coffee filters and tea bags are green materials that can be added to the compost.
  • In addition, paper, cardboard, newspaper, wood chips, lint, hair and nut shells will help to create a nutrient rich soil.

Stay away from materials that have been treated with chemicals and pesticides and anything that has come from an animal. These can include:

  • Dairy products
  • Fat drippings
  • Meat
  • Pet waste

These materials will produce a foul odor and attract pests.


Step 3: Add Water

Water is the third major ingredient that is essential to creating rich topsoil. Be sure to add a little moisture every time you put materials in the compost. If the soil looks dusty, then spray the top layer with water for a few seconds and thoroughly mix the compost. This will help evenly distribute the moisture so that all the microorganisms get the hydration they need to go to work.


Step 4: Watch and Wait

It is going to take some time for Mother Nature to do its work and turn your scraps and clippings into prime, “black gold” gardening soil. As the decomposition process occurs, you will notice that your compost pile produces heat. The center of the pile will “cook” the materials and create soil.


During the summer, when temperatures are higher, the cooking process will happen faster, so be sure to mix your compost regularly so that the outer layers can be processed. As a general rule of thumb, you will want to mix your compost pile every three to seven days. When the materials at the bottom have achieved a rich, dark color, your compost is ready to use!


Step 5: Put a Lid on It

If you want to speed up the decomposition process and have access to rich compost even sooner, consider covering your compost with a lid or tarp. This added covering will help you to regulate the amount of moisture and lock-in heat while also providing a layer of oxygen between the pile and the lid.


Learning how to compost at home is a great way to save money, recycle biodegradable waste and create nutrient rich soil that is the perfect addition to your garden. Your kitchen scraps and yard clippings are the ideal ingredients for topsoil. With a little planning, you can start composting at home and create an even more sustainable home and garden.



Contributed to Your Home blog 

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Published 6.10.19

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