Composting 101

Overview

Composting is not hard work, and can cost next to nothing to create, according to "Compost: The Natural Way to Make Food for Your Garden." If that's the case, it should be simple for the home gardener to begin a compost system to service the needs of her garden. Using organic compost in a garden helps one to create healthy soil, and to grow healthy produce, herbs and flowers. Composting does not have to take a long time. Once the bin is started, it only takes a few minutes here and there to keep up with.

Composting

Step 1

Create compost, which is made when plants and other living materials decompose. Use this to enrich soil, ultimately making it a healthier environment for new plants to grow. Do this either within the confines of a compost bin, or in a hole dug into the ground. Many gardeners simply place everything in an open pile above the ground.

Step 2

Combine organic materials in the pile. Start with a little pre-made compost or aged manure if desired, though this is not necessary. Add materials such as shredded leaves, grass and some sawdust to the pile every so often. Many gardeners also add dirt from their yards.

Step 3

Use scraps from the kitchen to create the compost. Use a small, lidded bucket that can be placed under the sink to store the scraps in. Use a bowl to catch scraps as meals are being prepared as an alternative. Use almost all of the kitchen scraps as long as they are not meat or dairy, and come from organic sources. Save scraps from cutting vegetables and fruits, egg shells and even coffee and tea grounds. Liquids from cooking can also be used, such as from vegetables, pasta and eggs.

Step 4

Mix the things in the pile together with a spade or a long stick every so often. Cover the pile with something if it seems too wet and it will rain. Add some water to the pile if it seems too dry. Mix the liquid into the pile so that it is moist.

Step 5

Learn about the items that should not be added to the bin or pile, such as diseased plants, bones and pet waste. Use the finished compost, evident by the fact that it looks and feels like healthy dirt, in the garden spring and fall.

Things You'll Need

  • Organic material
  • Manure
  • Spade or stick
  • Scrap bucket
  • Kitchen scraps

References

  • "Compost: The Natural Way to Make Food for Your Garden"; Ken Thompson; 2007
  • VegWeb: Compost Guide-Composting Fundamentals

Who Can Help

  • Creating Compost
Keywords: compost, composting, make compost

About this Author

Shannon Buck is a freelance writer residing in the small town of Milford, Maine. Her work has appeared on several sites including GreenandSave.com, where she writes The Green Mom column. She has written on many subjects, including home improvement, gardening, low-income living, writing and homeschooling.