Compost Without a Compost Pile

You can still compost if you are not allowed to have a pile in your yard

You may think you need a compost pile to improve your soil, but that's not the case. Here I will tell you how easy it is to improve your soil without a compost pile by simply burying the materials in your garden.

Things You'll Need:

  • Vegetable scraps
  • Fruit Scraps
  • Any other compostable materials
  • Container with Lid

Composting without a compost pile.

Collect various organic waste in an appropriate sized container for your needs. Choose a container that has a tight fitting lid to avoid fruit flies and other critters from discovering your compost container. I recommend starting with a container that will hold at least 8 cups of material.

Depending on how much organic waste your household uses in a day, you may need to empty your container as often as every day or as little as once a week. You may want to empty your container more often during hot weather as the contents in the container may begin to smell and decompose before you have had time to bury them in the garden. Store the container in a cool dry place until ready to bury. Personally, I like to empty my container every day or two, especially in the summer.

Once you have collected enough waste to bury, simply dig a hole or trench somewhere in your garden and bury the contents of your container. Make sure that at least six inches (15 centimeters) of soil is put back on top of the compost materials. This will ensure that animals are not attracted to the fresh organic waste you have just buried. Water the area to help settle the soil and to get the decomposing to start.

Good places to bury your organic waste include, between the rows in your vegetable garden and along side perennials, shrubs, and trees. Just make sure you bury the material just outside the root zone of the plant, so as not to disturb the roots too much.

Over time, these materials will break down. Earthworms and other beneficial insects will be attracted to the area, further improving the soil in your garden. It's that simple.

Here is a list of items that are ideal for composting in this way:

  • fruit scraps (including peels, melon rinds, seeds, stems, rotting fruit)
  • vegetable scraps (including peels, seeds, stems, rotting vegetables)
  • coffee grounds, including paper filter
  • shredded paper, newspaper, or cardboard (no plastic or glossy paper)
  • used tea bags
  • egg shells (rinsed and crumbled into small pieces)
  • Cooked foods that do not contain meat products (noodles, rice, bread, etc.)
  • Weeds (that have not gone to seed) and other dead plants
  • Leftovers after you have pruned or dead headed plants (cut into small pieces)

If the ground freezes in the winter in your area, you can dig a larger hole ahead of time and cover it with straw or grass clippings. Reserve the soil in a large container so it is ready to use in the Spring. As you collect the organic waste, remove the straw or grass clippings and put the waste in the hole and then recover. In the spring, take the soil you have been saving and cover it all up so it can start the decomposition process. You can also just save all the waste until Spring and bury it then. Save the waste outside in a large trash can or it can be frozen until needed.

Tips & Warnings

For best results cut up your organic waste into smaller pieces so that it will be easier to bury and decompose faster. This is especially important for melon rinds, newspaper, egg shells, large weeds, and corn husks. Do not compost meat, animal feces (such as dog or cat) or diseased plant material. Rabbit or chicken manure can be mixed in if readily available.

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