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Composting: How-To and Why

Updated on September 5, 2012

compost complete the cycle

Feed the soil: feed the plants. This an organic gardener knows is one of the ways to ensure a healthy, vital and productive garden.

The organic or natural gardener does not tend the plants but takes care of the soil. Follow this advice and you will find that whatever you choose to grow, be it herbs, flowers or vegetables you will produce plants that can withstand the onslaught of pests and disease.

Healthy soil means healthy plants.

How do you keep your soil healthy, well, one of the easiest ways is to add organic material to it on a regular basis. Now you can go out and buy compost, I recommend organic or you can purchase well rotted manure and if this is what you must do then that is fine.

When you are starting out to build a garden, you may have to buy compost. It is worth the money.

Another way to get great organic material for your garden is to compost those food scrapes, not bone or meat, but vegetables. You can add grass clippings to the mix and let that help. However, with grass clippings I suggest you leave the bulk of the clippings where they fall when you cut the lawn.

This will help your lawn.

Composting is an excellent way to recycle material that will benefit your garden but simply take up space in a landfill, especially when placed into a plastic bag which will take a very long time to breakdown.

A perfect mixture of material consists of ½ brown (carbon-based material) and ½ green (nitrogen-based) materials by weight.

You can build or buy a composter; the choice is up to you. I built a composter from a rubber garbage can for use on my balcony. The balcony was located right off the kitchen so this was very easy to use and my container garden was right on the balcony so putting the compost to work required very few steps.

The composter produced more than I needed for the containers and lugging it downstairs and around back was more steps than I needed to take.

Next time, if faced with a similar situation, I would place a worm composter in the kitchen for the balcony garden and a larger one in the backyard for that garden; thereby reducing the steps that I would need to take. Saving energy for other activities is a wise choice.

If you do not have room outside for a composter but still want to recycle to turn your kitchen waste into gold, well black gold, as compost is called, you can set up a worm composter in your kitchen. You can use the end product on your houseplants, containers plants or in the garden.

Composting is how you can complete the growing cycle. You put compost on your vegetable garden to help the plants grow; you harvest the plants for your meals and then put the scarps in the compost which you then put on your garden to help the plants grow.

This closed circuit approach reduces waste and produces healthy food for you and your family.

What can you compost? The following information provides you with a list of items that can go into your compost pile.

From Your Garden:

Leaves (chopped - to speed their breakdown)

Grass (not wet)

Plants & Weeds (without ripe seeds)

Old potting soil

Soft plant stems

From Your Kitchen.

Coffee grounds and filters

Fruit scraps

Vegetable trimmings

Crushed egg shells

Tea bags

Shredded paper

The following items should not be placed into the compost:

Dairy products including cheese

Meat, fish (including sauces) and bones



Fats and oils

Pet waste

Remember that a successful gardener builds soil and compost enables you to do that work.


courtesy flickr/shygantic
courtesy flickr/shygantic

How To Compost


Submit a Comment
  • Bob Ewing profile imageAUTHOR

    Bob Ewing 

    13 years ago from New Brunswick

    Thanks ZB and yes please link, I'll link to your hub from this one, if that's OK; just give me the link, thanks again.

  • Zsuzsy Bee profile image

    Zsuzsy Bee 

    13 years ago from Ontario/Canada

    Good Hub Bob! as always. Can I link your hub to my composting hub? Would that be okay?

    regards Zsuzsy

  • Bob Ewing profile imageAUTHOR

    Bob Ewing 

    13 years ago from New Brunswick

    Thanks, the smell only develops when the mixture is off, too much green or too much brown.

  • RachelOrd profile image

    Rachel Ord 

    13 years ago from Palm Coast

    Great topic! Compost really helps add back nutrients to the soil and garden beds. Where I used to live, the city had a recycle center where they stored huge rows of compost. I used to pick up a (free) few truck loads every year and work it into my worked and they kept producing big healthy plants!

    Just curious, like geetanjali asked, how do you keep it from smelling when you have a pile at your home?

  • Bob Ewing profile imageAUTHOR

    Bob Ewing 

    13 years ago from New Brunswick

    Thanks, all for the comments, depending upon where you live it may be necessary to make some adjutsments in composition of the compost; as to the activator kits, if the compost pile is designed and used properly, they should not be needed.

  • geetanjali profile image


    13 years ago

    This is a very nice hub. I was thinking of composting kitchen waste in a big terracotta urn...plenty of those in India!! What are these compost activator kits? Does anyone know? Are they necessary? Also, I'm concerned about the whole thing smelling after a while. Any suggestions?

  • Rob Jundt profile image

    Rob Jundt 

    13 years ago from Midwest USA

    Composting is the key to healthy soil. I don't have a compost bin per se; rather a compost garden. I've taken roughly 30 square feet of unused yard space, edged it off and toss everything you mentioned in. Every year we have more compost than we know what to do with. After we've put most of it the gardens (after removing mulches), we'll edge the yard, fill in low spots in the yard, and basically turn it over and over. -- I have found that a slightly larger green to brown mix works best where we live. -- Another thing I like to do is pour a stale beer and cola mixture into the compost pile to get things brewing. With the way we have the pile set up, we don't create as much heat as we really need. -- Nice hub and thanks for sharing.

  • pkmcr profile image


    13 years ago from Cheshire UK

    Good solid advice and highlights how inportant composting actually is.

    Take care


  • Gregorythompson profile image


    13 years ago from Illinois

    This is good info. I didn't realize how important composting could be! Thanks!


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