Composting is a way of making a natural, organic soil additive that improves the drainage of the soil and adds a short burst of nutrients. Yard and kitchen waste is collected into a small pile, either uncovered or in a composting bin, and allowed to decompose. Composting speeds up the decomposition process by layering waste in such a manner that microorganisms are created, which break down the waste quickly.
Choose an area with good water drainage, partially shaded, and away from tree roots and wooden structures, recommends the University of Illinois Extension.
Buy a small composting bin. The University of Illinois Extension recommends a bin no smaller than 3x3x3. Any smaller size would prevent the compost from heating up enough to break down the material. You can also make a compost pile without the bin, keeping it to about the same size.
Collect material for your compost. You will need a mixture of garden soil, dry leaves and grass, water, and kitchen waste, according to the Virginia Cooperative Extension. Keep these different sources separated for layering. Cut up large pieces of waste using a spade or scissor, suggests Garden Organic. This will aid in the speed of the breakdown.
Place scrap wood at the bottom of your compost with a few bits of shredded cardboard on top of the wood to start the pile. The University of Illinois Extension recommends this layer of wood under the compost pile or in the bottom of the composting bin to allow extra air circulation and drainage.
Place a layer of organic material on top of the wood. Garden Organic suggests a mixture of raw vegetable peels, grass and other green materials.
Stack a second layer on top using brown materials such as manure, cardboard and newspaper, as recommended by the University of Illinois Extension.
Place a third layer of top soil or fertilizer on top of the brown material, and keep layering in this manner until the pile is thick and heavy. Add water to the pile. The pile will begin to heat up after two or three weeks, according to the University of Illinois Extension. You will notice the pile sinking in the middle.
Turn the pile every 4 to 5 weeks mixing in fresh material. The compost will be ready after 3 to 4 months.