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How to Compost Food Scraps

By Meg Butler ; Updated September 21, 2017
Food scraps make great compost material
in the kitchen image by Horticulture from Fotolia.com

A compost pile is a great tool for getting rid of scraps in your kitchen. It allows you to cut down on garbage waste (and smell). And it provides your garden plants with nutritious humus. Small amounts of kitchen scraps can be put into a small, ceramic compost crock kept right on your kitchen counter. Larger amounts of compost waste can be put into a compost pile outside. Ideally, your compost pile should remain at least halfway full to work efficiently, so choose your bin's size according to the amount of waste you have to feed it.

Cut your food scraps into small pieces. Small pieces have more relative surface area so the microorganisms in your compost pile are able to break them down more quickly. The smaller the pieces, the better.

Put only vegan food scraps into your compost bin. Animal and dairy products do not compost well. They'll stink up your pile, prevent it from composting and attract animal predators. Fats, oils and greasy foods should be kept out of your pile for the same reason, even if they are vegan.

Add plant waste to your compost pile. Food scraps are great for a compost pile, but your compost pile needs a balance of wet and dry material to compost effectively. Cut your plant waste (leaves, grass, plants, seedless weeds, etc.) into small pieces and add it to your compost pile. Ideally, dry plant matter should be present in equal amounts to your food scraps.

Turn the compost pile once every two weeks. This aerates the pile and energizes the microorganisms that break down your material. Use a stick or other disposable tool to mix the contents of the compost pile thoroughly.

Check your compost piles moisture levels periodically. It should be just about as wet as a wrung-out sponge. If your compost pile is too moist, its likely that you have too many food scraps and not enough dry plant material. Add more dry material and turn your pile more frequently until it reaches the right moisture level. If it is soggy, dump the contents out and spread them out on the ground for a day or so to let them dry out. If your compost pile is too dry, add a bit of water and turn it until it is moist enough.

Add a thin layer of garden soil to your compost pile once monthly. This soil will provide your compost pile with a fresh supply of the bacteria that break down the food scraps.


About the Author


Based in Houston, Texas, Meg Butler is a professional farmer, house flipper and landscaper. When not busy learning about homes and appliances she's sharing that knowledge. Butler began blogging, editing and writing in 2000. Her work has appered in the "Houston Press" and several other publications. She has an A.A. in journalism and a B.A. in history from New York University.