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How to Compost - Make Compost - How to make Compost

Updated on September 7, 2010
Make Compost
Make Compost

So you have decided you want to learn how to compost?

A friend recently mentioned to me that she had started to make compost. Not only did she want to reduce some of the items that were being sent to the local landfill but she also wanted to make compost for her garden and yard.

Our conversation got me started on a research project on the internet about how to make compost. I have learned that there are many common household byproducts that you can use to make compost. There are basically two categories of ingredients used to make compost: Green materials and Brown materials. Generally you will want to add approximately equal quantities of these two categories of materials as you make your compost layering them as you go.

This article discusses the materials used to make compost. I’ll address the topic of compost containers in a separate article: Compost Bin Review

So let’s talk about the ingredients you will need as you prepare to make compost.


Green Ingredients:

Green materials can consist of items like grass clippings, landscape trimmings, vegetable scraps, and even fruit peels.  In fact almost all excess food items except for meat products and greasy items are candidates for adding to your home made compost.  Breads, grains and pastas are all acceptable ingredients for your compost.  In fact you can also add coffee grounds (including the filters), tea bags, and even fruit juices to your compost batch.

Brown Ingredients:

Brown materials can consist of dry leaves, twigs, straw, sawdust. I live in the desert and don’t have access to much of these types of materials. My more commonly available “brown” ingredients consist of newspaper, junkmail, lightweight cardboard boxes from packaged foods and shredded office paper.

As mentioned earlier, you should add your greens and browns in staggered layers of about equal depths. You should always top the pile off with a brown layer though. Each of these layers provides different properties to help your compost “cook”. The Green layer provides nitrogen to your recipe while the Brown layer provides needed carbon. A proper Carbon/Nitrogen will aid in helping the decomposition process be successful.

Mixing required to add oxygen:

While your compost will begin cooking with the ingredients mentioned above, the decomposition process will slow down over time. As the microbes involved in this process do their thing,… they use up oxygen that is available down within the various layers. It is critical to “mix things up” regularly to re-introduce oxygen to the process and keep the cooking process going at maximum velocity.

The exact approach you use to “mix” or “turn” that batch of compost depends a lot on where you’re “cooking” it. I encourage you to refer to my review of several different compost bins available commercially along with some “do it yourself” bins to get some ideas that I have come across.

Happy composting!

Add a comment and let me know if this article was helpful please:

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    • dprice99 profile image

      dprice99 5 years ago from Phoenix Arizona

      Thanks for your comment. Glad that you liked the post.

    • sarasa66 profile image

      sarasa66 5 years ago

      useful tips for good use of waste, indeed.thanx.

    • dprice99 profile image

      dprice99 7 years ago from Phoenix Arizona

      You know you have a point,... but the layering does help initially before you start mixing. Most people probably don't mix all that regularly so the layering helps prior to mixing. I've also found that having brown materials on top of the green helps to keep smells in check.

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 7 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Hmmm....I wonder how important it truly is to create specific layers, for once you start 'mixing' or 'turning' much for your layers! It's all one big "mess" at that point....

    • wannabwestern profile image

      Carolyn Augustine 8 years ago from Iowa

      My father-in-law had a big garden in Utah and used a garbage disposal that he rigged up in his outdoor workshop to process the organic materials so they would decay faster. It worked like a charm for him. Thanks for sharing your information and technique.

    • dprice99 profile image

      dprice99 8 years ago from Phoenix Arizona

      Hopefully the information here will encourage you to compost yourself. I have been a little amazed at how much household waste that we've been able to redirect into our compost bin.

    • creativeone59 profile image

      benny Faye Douglass 8 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

      Very informative info about composting, thanks for sharing. creativeone59

    • dprice99 profile image

      dprice99 8 years ago from Phoenix Arizona

      My compost bin is "cooking away" right now. I'm looking forward to using this home made brew when I put the garden in this year.

    • loveofnight profile image

      loveofnight 8 years ago from Baltimore, Maryland

      useful information, thx 4 share