Composting Made Easy

Learn how to make compost quickly and correctly

Now that you know what can be composted, all you need to do is add it to the pile as you acquire waste. It's best to alternate the materials between browns and greens. Don't get too worked up about the ratio. Just remember that a variety of materials in your pile will make for better compost. Don't pack the materials down as the pile needs oxygen to help break down the materials. If it hasn't rained in a few days, you may want to water the pile as that will help break it down as well.

Some experts say that you must turn a pile at least once a week, but more evidence is surfacing that suggests that turning is not necessary and may produce higher nitrogen compost if you don't turn it. For me, I will usually turn it when I have a lot of new material to add. This may only be once a month and I still have usable compost every year.

Ways to speed up a slow pile.

If your pile doesn't seem to be decomposing very fast, you can speed it up by doing the following:

  • Add a little more nitrogen in the form of grass clippings.
  • Add a bucket of finished compost to the pile and turn it.
  • Add urine to the pile.  A cup or two a week until the pile gets hot.
  • Add plain water to the pile until it feels like a damp sponge.
  • Shred new materials to encourage faster decomposition

You'll know your compost is finished when it's dark in color, crumbly and smells like the earth. It should also look like soil with very little of the organic matter you added recognizable. For instance, you may notice wood chips or small twigs in the compost since they take much longer to decompose. You can return them to the pile or add them to your gardens. They will decompose eventually.

Other Ways to Compost if you can't or don't want to have a compost pile:

  • Make leaf mold by putting all your leaves in black garbage bags.  Read more about leaf mold here.
  • Spread your leaves and grass clippings on your gardens to act as mulch.
  • Mulch mow your leaves and grass to return the organic matter to the lawn.
  • Compost kitchen scraps in the garden by digging holes between your plants and burying the waste directly in the garden.  Make the holes at least 8" deep to discourage animals from digging up the waste. Read more about composting without a compost pile here.

You can also purchase plastic compost bins like the ones you see here that can confine the piles to a smaller area. These bins also seem to create compost even quicker than traditional piles.

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