How to Produce Organic Soil for Nutrients in Vegetables

Overview

You don't have to buy those expensive bags of organic compost at the garden center to enrich your garden---make your own for free with garbage. Composting not only reduces the amount of waste that goes into the landfill, it also creates a garden additive that provides important nutrients for the soil. Plants depend on the soil for the nutrients found in their fruits, leaves and roots, and rich, healthy soil means bigger, more nutritious vegetables.

Step 1

Collect kitchen waste in a lidded bucket or a specially designed compost pail. You can compost any plant-based food, like carrot tops, apple cores or coffee grounds. You can also compost egg shells, but most other animal products like meat or dairy should not be composted. Avoid composting foods with lots of oil or grease. In composting, kitchen waste is referred to as "greens," which add nitrogen to the compost.

Step 2

Empty the bucket into the compost bin once a day, or whenever the bucket is full.

Step 3

Cover the food waste with yard trimmings, such as fallen leaves, wood chips or dried grass clippings. These are referred to as "browns" and contribute carbon to the compost. Covering the food waste with leaves or dried grass can also help deter pests. Aim for a roughly even amount of browns and greens in your compost. If you don't have any yard waste available, use shredded paper for the brown part of your compost.

Step 4

Turn the compost pile with a pitchfork once every one to two weeks. This will aerate the compost and hasten decomposition.

Step 5

Water the compost pile as needed so that it is as wet as a wrung-out sponge.

Step 6

Add kitchen and yard waste until the compost bin is full. You will still need to turn and water the compost occasionally.

Step 7

Spread the compost over your garden when all the food and yard waste have completely decomposed and the compost is black and crumbly. Depending on the weather and your composting method, this may take 2 to 12 months.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost bin or tumbler
  • Bucket or compost pail
  • Kitchen waste
  • Yard trimmings
  • Shredded paper
  • Pitchfork

References

  • Reduce.org: How to Compost

Who Can Help

  • Western Lake Superior Sanitary District: Compost Bin Building Plans
Keywords: make compost, organic soil, yard waste, browns and greens, soil nutrients

About this Author

Sonya Welter worked in the natural foods industry for more than seven years before becoming a full-time freelancer in 2010. She has been published in "Mother Earth News," "Legacy" magazine and in several local publications in Duluth, Minn., including "Zenith City News," for which she writes a regular outdoors column. She graduated cum laude in 2002 from Northland College, an environmental liberal arts college.