How to Maximize Your Composter


The formula for making good compost is air, water, heat, and leftover plant material. Kitchen and garden waste are organic materials that decay into nutrient-rich compost. The decay process is maximized by using a composter. There are 2 types of commercial composters: drums and bins. Drums provide a way to turn and aerate the material. Plastic bin types have a larger capacity to hold garden clippings, kitchen waste and leaves. They rely on the natural process of decay. Composters have vent holes, lids, sift trays, and sliding doors to access finished compost. Some bins are designed to stack the movable parts as a way to aerate the compost pile. You can maximize the process of making compost in five ways.

Step 1

Cut it up. Use garden shears to cut up plant materials before you put them into the compost bin. Smaller pieces decay faster. Leave out woody stems and branches. The most successful mix is 75 percent "brown" material and 25 percent "green" vegetation. Brown is carbon materials such as leaves and newspapers. Green is plant and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, egg shells.

Step 2

Mix it. If you have a rotating drum type compost bin, turn it once a week several times. Use a pitchfork to reach in to a bin-type composter and lift the top layer up and then set it down again.Lift the pitchfork up and down and let the compost fall through the tines. This adds air to the pile. The decay process requires air to break down the plant materials.

Step 3

Water it. Add water to the compost pile so it is always moist, like a damp sponge. Check the top of the pile once a week and add water as needed. Soak thoroughly with a hose in dry weather. Good compost bins allow water to drain easily. Take the lid off when it rains.

Step 4

Heat it. Position the compost bin in the sun and keep its lid on. Heat is created as the compost pile begins to decay. Heat is created as the pile sits and the material "cooks" between the times it is turned or tumbled. The fastest decay happens between 140 degrees Fahrenheit and 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 5

Use it. It takes between 6 weeks and 6 months to harvest compost, depending on the method you choose. Finished compost is black in color and finely crumbled in texture when it is ready to use. Spread finished compost around plants as a fertilizer. Dig it into the soil when adding new plants to the garden. Make into liquid fertilizing tea for houseplants.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost bin
  • Garden gloves
  • Garden shears
  • Pitchfork


  • Colorado State University Extension: Composting Yard Waste

Who Can Help

  • Ohio State University Extension Factsheet: Composting at Home
Keywords: maximize composter, make compost, compost tips

About this Author

Joan Norton, M.A., is a licensed psychotherapist and professional writer in the field of women's spirituality. She blogs and has two published books on the subject of Mary Magdalene; "14 Steps To Awaken The Sacred Feminine:Women in the Circle of Mary Magdalene," and "The Mary Magdalene Within."