Compost is decomposed organic matter that turns into a soil substance called humus. Humus is nutrient rich and stimulates the growth of plants in the garden. Compost improves the soil structure as well, making it porous and aiding in the retention of water and nutrients. Composting is an effective manner of recycling. According to Ohio State University, 20 to 30 percent of landfill waste is from kitchen and yard trimmings. These materials can be used to make valuable compost.
Find a location for the compost heap that is shaded, away from tree roots and free from excessive wind, suggests the University of Illinois Extension.
Fence off an area that is no smaller than 3 feet wide by 3 feet deep by 3 feet long and no larger than 5 feet deep by 5 feet long by 5 feet deep using heavy-gauge woven wire fencing. Bury the bottom of the fencing several inches to support it. Wrap the interior with black plastic lining to aid in decomposition, recommends Kansas State University.
Put down a layer of 3 to 4 inches of chopped bush at the bottom of the compost pile, to aid in drainage.
Add a layer of 6 to 8 inches of leaves, grass clippings and kitchen scraps. Avoid using fatty foods, meat and dairy in the pile, as these cause a foul-smelling rot.
Spread 1 inch of topsoil on the pile, and then add another 2 to 3 inches of manure or a complete fertilizer to feed microorganisms.
Repeat the layers in the same order until the fencing is full. Then pour water over the pile to get the decomposition process started. The pile will sag in the middle once it has reached the proper temperature of 110 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit in the first two weeks.
Add water when necessary to keep the pile from drying out, and turn the pile every four to five weeks to mix in newer kitchen scraps with the old. Compost is usually ready within three to four months.