How to Grow Compost

Overview

Compost is a crumbly mix of partially decomposed organic matter, such as yard clippings and kitchen scraps. Natural composting can take a year or more, but you can assist the microbes in your compost pile with balanced compost ingredients and regular maintenance. Your garden plants will benefit from the addition of nutrient-rich compost to the soil as you recycle your kitchen and paper waste with an ecofriendly method.

Step 1

Cover the bottom of your compost bin with a 3- to 4-inch layer of brown, woody ingredients such as fallen leaves, twigs and branches, cardboard and sawdust. Speed up the composting process by shredding these items first. These brown ingredients are slower to rot but rich in carbon.

Step 2

Add a 2- to 3-inch layer of grass clippings to the pile. Nitrogen-rich green materials rot quickly and speed up the composting process. Healthy compost should contain equal parts green and brown ingredients. Repeat these two layers until your pile is 3 to 4 feet high.

Step 3

Save your kitchen scraps, such as vegetable peels, coffee grounds, tea bags and egg shells, and add them to the top of your compost pile.

Step 4

Mix the pile with a shovel and moisten the pile until it is as wet as a wrung-out sponge.

Step 5

Continue adding layers as the pile compacts. Regularly mix the material, adding water to moisten or brown materials to absorb water. The more often you mix your compost pile, the quicker the composting process will take place.

Step 6

Incorporate compost into your garden soil when it becomes brown and crumbly with a deep early scent. The composting process can take anywhere from 6 weeks to a year.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not add meats, fish, cooked foods, human or pet feces to your compost pile.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost bin
  • Shredded leaves
  • Grass clippings
  • Branches and other yard waste
  • Kitchen scraps
  • Cardboard recyclables
  • Shovel

References

  • Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection: How to Make Compost
  • University of Missouri Extension: Making and Using Compost
  • Garden Organic: How Do I Make My Compost

Who Can Help

  • Garden Organic: What Can I Compost?
Keywords: growing compost, DIY compost pile, making compost

About this Author

Lydia Stephens began writing professionally in 2009. She has written online for Nile Guides, SheKnows.com and various other Web sites and has been published in "Stringing Magazine" and "Xiamen Wave." Stephens played competitive soccer for 19 years, has been weight lifting since 2007 and enjoys running, biking and sailing. She has a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from the University of Texas.