How to Compost With Food Scraps


According to the book "The Illustrated Guide to Gardening," compost is a way of returning nutrients to the soil that are removed in the process of growing plants and vegetables. A good compost pile contains a mixture of "browns," or carbon-rich matter, and "greens," or nitrogen-rich matter. Browns include dead leaves and hay, while greens include coffee grounds, banana peels, and other vegetable scraps. A good compost pile should be constructed in layers.

Step 1

Construct a compost bin using wooden pallets or skids by leaning the four pallets against one another so that they form a container. Wire the sides together loosely so that they will contain your decomposing compost pile, but can still be unwired and unloaded for easy access.

Step 2

Collect vegetable and fruit scraps by placing a covered container such as a plastic food storage bin on the counter of your kitchen or under the kitchen sink. Keep the lid on your container to hold in smells, and sprinkle peat moss or baking soda inside the container to help keep odors in check. Fill the container with scraps as you prepare food.

Step 3

Avoid using fatty scraps from meat, butter or oil. Also avoid saving the seeds of vegetable and fruit scraps.

Step 4

Alternate layers of green kitchen scraps and brown leaves, hay or newspaper. Each layer should be approximately 8 to 12 inches deep. Tread each layer down and water with a garden hose.

Step 5

Cover your compost bin loosely with a tarp to allow ventilation but keep out pests such as raccoons. Alternately, you can cover your entire bin with chicken wire to keep out pests.

Step 6

Wait for the scraps to decompose into compost. A compost pile generally takes three months to "cook." Compost appears to be rich, black, sweet smelling soil.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not place human or animal wastes into the compost pile.

Things You'll Need

  • 4 skids or wooden pallets
  • Garden twine
  • Scissors
  • Gardener's pitchfork
  • Kitchen fruit and vegetable scraps
  • Dead leaves
  • Hay
  • Newspaper
  • Garden hose
  • Chicken wire
  • Tarp


  • Lasagna Gardening
  • How do I Know the Difference Between Greens and Browns?
  • Home Composting Systems

Who Can Help

  • Home Composting
Keywords: compost heap, compost bin, food scraps

About this Author

After 10 years experience in writing, Tracy S. Morris has countless articles and two novels to her credit. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets" and "CatFancy," as well as the "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World," and several websites.