Compost piles and bins help benefit your household and garden, the environment, and even your wallet. There are four main elements to composting--air, water, nitrogen and carbon--and for the latter two, you can use thousands of items for composting. After layering these items, all you need are time and patience for the organisms to break down and provide compost. Bury food scraps deep, to avoid pests or odors.
In order for composting to happen, there must be oxygen and constant air circulation through the compost layers. This ensures that the bacteria and fungus can thrive. Sift through and fluff up your compost pile weekly, with a trowel or shovel.
Water is necessary so the composting ingredients can break down, which cannot happen in dry environments. Test for enough moisture by squeezing a handful of compost. If water drips out, it is wet enough. For anything less, add water, dripping it down the sides so it touches all parts of the compost.
This category of composting materials is primarily green. This includes landscape trimmings (such as wet leaves or grass), old spices, kitchen vegetable and fruit trimmings or peels, eggshells, rinds, houseplant trimmings, pine needles, seaweed, kelp, hops and manure.
The material group known collectively as carbon is comprised of mostly brown materials that are dry. This includes things like leaves, straw, brush, twigs or hay, wood chips and sawdust, hair, paper napkins, burlap, wood ashes, coffee or tea grounds, matches and paper shreds. For pieces of wood, break up large pieces so they are 12 inches or smaller.