How to Make Compost for Your Veggie Garden


Composting turns your yard waste and kitchen scraps into a high-nutrient amendment for your veggie garden with little cost. Bacteria inside the compost pile decompose the materials. By managing the amount of carbon and nitrogen-rich items in the pile, decomposition is sped up and produces compost of a finer quality. Use store-bought compost bins, make your own bin from wood pallets or just make a pile in part of your yard.

Step 1

Place your compost heap or bin in a level area that doesn't have standing water after rain or snow melt. Choose an area that is not likely to be easily accessed by scavenging animals.

Step 2

Fill the heap with an 8- to 12-inch layer of nitrogen-rich grass clippings, manure from herbivore animals, or green plant matter such as leaves from plant pruning. Top this with a second 8- to 12-inch layer of carbon-rich dead leaves, shredded paper, kitchen scraps (no meat or dairy products) or sawdust.

Step 3

Cover the first two layers with previously composted soil or 1/2 lb. of lime-fertilizer for every 10 lbs. of composting materials. Make lime fertilizer by mixing 5 lbs. of balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer with 2 lbs. of limestone.

Step 4

Continue feeding the compost pile in layers, keeping them as equal as possible. Top each layer with mature compost or fertilizer.

Step 5

Mix the compost thoroughly using a garden fork every one to four weeks. Move the outside of the pile in and the inside of the pile to the outside so the bacteria can work on all parts of it.

Step 6

Keep the compost pile moist. Water it regularly if it is drying out and add more green material to the pile to help add moisture.

Step 7

Use the compost once all the organic material is broken down and the compost is rich dark brown or black. It will take between two months and one year, depending on how often you turn the pile and what items are being composted. Finished compost smells earthy and crumbles in your hand.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not put meat, dairy or greasy items in the compost pile. Do not put cat, dog or other carnivore or omnivore animals manure in the pile.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost bin
  • Yard and food waste
  • Fertilizer
  • Lime
  • Garden fork


  • University of Illinois Extension
  • Garden Organic
Keywords: garden composting, vegetable soil amendments, how to compost

About this Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications. Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.