Compost Tips for Beginners

My Garden Life
July 9, 2018
Table of Contents

What is Compost?

Compost is nutrient-rich soil that is made from decayed kitchen scraps and landscape waste. Compost has a natural ability to hold moisture, which means the garden will require less watering if compost is added to the soil. In addition, the nutrients in compost are a great natural fertilizer for plants (remember healthier soil = healthier plants).

Choose a Composter System

Depending on the amount of compost you’d like to make there are a range of composter systems to choose from.

1. Bin

This is a toss-it-in-a-pile option that is often contained by wire, wood or plastic. Set the bin in a place where it will be easy to access it and mix the layers with a pitchfork.

2. Tumbler

This barrel-style option is an easy -to-mix choice because it simply spins, instead of turning the compost with a pitchfork each week.

3. Wormery

This small-scale, indoor option is especially good for people with limited space or who container garden. Wormeries are enjoyed by kids and adults alike because you can learn up close about the process of composting.

For a ready-to-go composter check out your local store’s Patio and Garden department.

Choose a Kitchen Pail or Crock

Select a container to collect your kitchen scraps that will be dumped regularly into your composter system.

Compost Bin, Kitchen Compost Pail, Rich Soil, Wormery

What to Compost

The aim when composting is to add half fresh green materials and half dry brown materials. Layers of green and brown materials create a perfectly balanced mix of nutrients (nitrogen and carbon) for plants.

Compost This!, Not That! - chart of waste to compost and avoid composting

Pro Tip: A compost pile that is maintained properly will not smell.

Start Composting

  • Turn or mix the compost once a week. This adds oxygen for the microbes and speeds up the process. Note: This step isn’t absolutely necessary, but you will have better and faster results if you regularly mix compost.
  • Add water, if necessary, so the compost is slightly moist but not soggy wet.
  • Use your compost once the added materials turn black, crumbly and soft. From start to finish it should take three to six months for your first batch of compost (less time if you mix it).
  • Then, start over and make more.

Pro Tip: You might wonder, why can’t you simply add the waste materials directly to your garden? A successful compost pile creates a community of microbes that thrive on heat, moisture and oxygen to break down the waste materials more quickly than they would on their own.

Green Material + Brown Material + Air + Water = Compost

Process of Composting - Turn, Add Water, Wait, Repeat


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