Not every garden is blessed with rich, nutritious soil. Native soils can suffer from a number of deficiencies that make it difficult to grow anything but weeds. You can amend your native soil to make it better suited to plant growth. Compost piles are a great way to produce your own rich, friable, nutritious soil for little more than the cost of a compost bin.
Add a handful or two of soil (from your yard or garden) to your compost pile to help the decomposition process get started. Soil contains the microorganisms responsible for breaking down compost. Continue to add a handful once monthly to give your compost pile a boost.
Add carbon-rich "brown" material (plant waste such as leaves, straw and pine needles) and nitrogen-rich "green" material (vegan kitchen waste such as fruit and vegetable peelings) to your compost pile in a 2 to 1 ratio by volume. For example, each time you add a bucket of vegetable peelings, follow it with two buckets of leaves. If you have an abundance of available green and brown material, you can fill your pile all at once. If not, fill it periodically, adding brown and green in a 2 to 1 ratio every time you add to the pile. Cut any items that you add to your compost pile into the smallest pieces possible. Small pieces compost more quickly.
Turn the contents of your compost pile with a shovel to evenly mix the ingredients once weekly or every time you add to the bin.
Stop adding material to your compost bin once its contents reach between 3 and 5 cubic feet (the ideal size for composting) or once your compost bin is full. Continue to turn the pile once weekly. The compost is ready for use once it turns into rich organic soil or humus. The time that this will take will take anywhere from two months to a year depending on the size of your pile, its ingredients and how often you turn it.