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How to Maintain a Good Compost Bin

By Em Connell McCarty ; Updated September 21, 2017

Not only is keeping a compost bin fun and environmentally responsible, but composting is the best way to recycle your kitchen waste and to make your own plant food. To maintain a good compost bin, you will need to add the essential elements, invest a small amount of time and energy, and control any odors that may occur.

Add "green" materials to your compost bin regularly. Collect your kitchen waste--fruits, vegetables, tea and coffee grounds--and once a week or so add them to your compost bin. These living materials add nitrogen to your compost bin. Nitrogen is essential for making compost.

Add "brown" materials to your compost bin as well. These materials come from dead leaves, dead grasses and hay, straw, wood chips and shredded paper. Brown materials contribute another much-needed element to your compost bin, carbon.

Keep your compost moist. You do not want to suffocate your compost with too much water, but you will need water for your compost bin to be well-maintained. The rule of thumb is that the contents of your compost bin should have the same amount of dampness as a sponge that has been wrung out.

Turn your compost as often as once a week or at least once a month. Compost needs air, and turning it will provide the circulation needed. Some compost bins are mounted tumblers or free-rolling tumblers. If you do not have this kind of compost bin, simply use a pitchfork to turn the contents of your compost bin.

Minimize the odor of your compost bin by keeping a layer of leaves, grass or hay on top of the contents. This will also deter flying insects from invading. Lime or calcium can also help deter pests and control odor. Do not add meat and dairy products to your compost bin--not only will they create an odor, but also will they attract unwanted attention to your compost bin.

 

Things You Will Need

  • Kitchen waste
  • Yard waste
  • Pitchfork
  • Water

Tips

  • In composting, bigger is better. The more matter you have in your compost bin, the more heat will be generated--creating compost faster and more efficiently.
  • Keep your compost bin close to your garden for easy transfer of compost. Compost bins without enclosed bottoms will enrich the ground they are placed on. To double the benefits, move your compost bin once a year and use the ground it sat on to grow flowers or plant a tree.

Warning

  • Never put dog or cat waste in your compost.