How to Compost Organic Material


A healthy, efficient compost pile consists of organic material from plant sources. Compost piles with a variety of different material in them compost the most efficiently and produce the most nutritious compost. Ideally, your compost pile should have an equal amount of green compost material (nitrogen-rich kitchen waste like fruit and vegetable trimmings, or green plants) and brown material (carbon-rich material like dried leaves, pine needles and hay).

Step 1

Cut or shred all organic material to be composted into the smallest pieces possible. The smaller the pieces, the more quickly they will compost.

Step 2

Add the organic material to the pile. Each time you add material, add equal amounts by volume of brown material and green material. For a list of common green and brown compost materials, see the Resources section.

Step 3

Add a handful of garden soil to the pile. This will introduce a fresh supply of the organisms responsible for turning the compost into humus.

Step 4

Use a shovel to turn the compost pile.

Step 5

Repeat Steps 1 through 4 until the compost pile reaches between 3 and 5 cubic feet. Then stop adding new material to the pile and turn it weekly until it turns into humus.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost bin
  • 2 containers
  • Shovel
  • Garden soil


  • Compost Council of Canada: At Home with Composting
  • City of Davis, California: Compost Troubleshooting

Who Can Help

  • Green and Brown Compost Material
  • 163 Things You Can Compost
Keywords: organic compost, compost material, how to compost

About this Author

Emma Gin is a freelance writer who specializes in green, healthy and smart living. She is currently working on developing a weight-loss website that focuses on community and re-education. Gin is also working on a collection of short stories, because she knows what they say about idle hands.