How to Make Compost for Vegetables


One of the easiest ways to improve your soil for vegetable gardening is by adding compost to it. Compost improves drainage while holding onto just enough moisture for vegetables to thrive without the roots rotting or drowning. It also adds many nutrients to the soil that vegetables require to thrive. A layer of compost tilled into the soil can turn a poor garden bed into an excellent one that produces prolific crops. Making your own compost at home requires just a small investment of time and saves money over purchasing compost by the bag at garden centers.

Step 1

Lay an 8-inch high pile of yard waste over a 3-square-foot area. Mix two parts dead leaves, wood chips and straw with one part grass clippings, green plant waste and kitchen scraps to make this layer.

Step 2

Spread nitrogen-rich fertilizer over the yard waste layer. Use 1 cup of fertilizer for every square foot of space the pile uses.

Step 3

Spray the pile down with water so it is moist but not soggy. Use a mister attachment on a garden hose to avoid over-soaking.

Step 4

Continue layering yard waste and fertilizer in the pile until it reaches 3 to 5 feet high. Build the pile in an afternoon or slowly add to it over time. The longer it takes to build the pile, the longer the compost takes to be ready.

Step 5

Turn the pile once weekly with a garden fork, moving the outside of the pile toward the middle. The compost will be ready to use on your vegetable garden in approximately two to three months.

Step 6

Apply a 3-inch layer of compost to garden beds in the spring and till it into the soil as a rich amendment. Apply a 1-to-2-inch layer around perennial plants to act as a mulch and add soil nutrients. Make a potting mix for container plants by mixing 1 part compost and 1 part peat moss with 1 part coarse sand.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not compost diseased plants or weed seeds. The seeds and disease organisms may survive the composting process and damage your vegetable plants. Do not compost meat, greasy items or dairy foods. These rot and attract pests.

Things You'll Need

  • Yard waste
  • Fertilizer
  • Garden fork
  • Mist attachment


  • Oregon State University
Keywords: vegetable compost, composting yard waste, soil amendment

About this Author

Jenny Harrington is a freelance writer of more than five years' experience. Her work has appeared in "Dollar Stretcher" and various blogs. Previously, she owned her own business for four years, selling handmade items online, wholesale and via the crafts fair circuit. Her specialties are small business, crafting, decorating and gardening.