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How To Make Compost

Updated on February 3, 2013
Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet-White is an internationally known food writer, food editor for Texas Living, cookbook author, and food blogger.

What is Compost?

Compost is an excellent soil nutrient, as well as a fabulous mulch. It is what is left of food scraps, grass cuttings, leaves, hair, and other things you would normally throw away, after these things are broken down by a natural process that includes bacteria, fungi, worms and insects, and more. It can be used as mulch or fertilizer on any plant and is basically free. Composting also cuts down on the material that enters landfills so it improves the environment that way as well.

How Do I Make Compost?

Compost is most easily made and stored in a container that has holes for water drainage and aeration. You can even just pile it up in a out of the way spot in your yard! Start with a layer of grass clippings and toss some manure on it. It doesn't really matter what type it is.The ideal ratio is described as 25 parts "brown" to 1 part "green" materials.

All kitchen scraps except meat and dairy compost well, as do the ashes from your fireplace. Add some leaves and then toss another shovel full or two of manure on top. This helps speed up the process of breaking the compost down into nutrient rich compost material.

Other things that you may not think about and do compost well;

dog hair

dryer lint

fish scraps

seaweed and other ocean plants

saw dust and shavings


There are more. As you deal with each throwaway item in your home consider whether it could be utilized as compost.

The compost pile can be handled in a couple of ways. Highly managed compost piles are turned frequently, watered as needed to keep things moist and monitored for heat, which indicates the breaking down process. This is an investment of time but by doing so you can have finished compost in 3-4 weeks.

Passive composting simply means that you maintain a hands off approach, leaving the pile to fend for itself. Neither method is better or produces better compost. You have to decide on a method by the amount of time you have.

Uses for Compost

Compost does not smell. It is dark brown and crumbly.

1.Spread it one inch thick on your garden and it will help keep the roots of the plants cool and moist.

2,Adding some compost to the small hole of a perennial plant when you plant it gives the plant enough nutrients to help it to thrive for a long time.

3Compost is a fabulous garden fertilizer. It contains all the nutrients a living plant needs and delivers them in a slow-release manner over a period of years. Compost made with a alot of ingredients will provide an even more nutritious meal to your thriving plants

4.Compost grows healthier plants that are more disease resistant than other plants. Use it throughout the growing season as a side dressing.

5. It has been used to clean up chemical spills and that type of thing by absorbing and treating the chemicals . It also filters water so it is cleaner.It binds heavy metals and keeps them from getting mixed onto the water supply.

6.And many more things!

Compost Tea

Compost tea is one of the most effective ways to have healthy, lush plants and it is easy to make.


  • 5 gallon bucket half filled with compost
  • 1/2 cup unsulphured blackstrap molasses
  • Water that has been allowed to stand overnight to get rid of chlorine


Mix the compost and the molasses together in the bucket and add water to fill the bucket. Allow to stand for two days. You can filter the water off or just use the water straight from the bucket to water your plants.

How to start a compost pile


There are some things that you should never put int he compost pile. Used cat litter is a no, cats often carry a disease that could be passed on to those that handle the compost. Meat products draw rodents and so you want to be careful of putting them on the compost pile, Some plants, like tomatoes, can sometimes carry diseases that can spread to your healthy plants in the garden if it is used. Weeds should stay out of the compost pile because they can transfer seeds to the garden. Even cigarette butts can carry tobacco mosaic and need to be kept out of the garden area.

Beautiful plants

All in all you can have a beautiful garden with a little time composting.


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    • GDRshop profile image

      GDRshop 6 years ago

      This is great for my little bro's science project! Might as well make a compost for his little garden

    • profile image

      Roy mason 6 years ago

      thanks for your help on how to brake compost I have a allotment and I appretiTe any help

    • profile image

      Ashlea B 7 years ago

      Great info. We may have to give this a try.

    • Terrylee5151 profile image

      Terrylee5151 7 years ago from Pennsylvania

      I am glad I found this hub. I just started composting and I had no idea I could use dryer lint. I have like a ton of that stuff.

      By the way, I am a new follower.

    • profile image

      Jen 8 years ago

      Great hub on getting started with composting. Composting with worms is another way to compost, and allows you to do so year-round in cold locations. You can keep the worms inside with no bad smells from your worm bin, and then come spring you've got tons of compost to get started with in your garden.

    • profile image

      Dave 8 years ago

      I was wondering around on the internet and stumbled upon this, Just would like to add, this is a cool site. We recently had a compost pile of "fire wood" that we had been throwing in a pile for the last 4'ish years and recently had to move it due to the fact that we're now trying to rent the house. Much to our surprise, the logs of wood that had been sitting there this whole time have turned to mush and decayed. We had to scoop most of it up with a shovel but some of the compost is still there. It's a nice color, I think it might be a good base to grow a Sunflower patch. I'll take some pictures of it some other day. Just my 2 cents

    • profile image

      Cathy 8 years ago

      Hi. I have two lavendar plants planted in seperate pots outside my front door. I have noticed of late that the one plant is looking very healthy and the other not as healthy. One closer inspection of the healthier plant I found a pile of my husbands cigarette butts! So I'm interested to find out if tobacco is used as a fertilizer and what 'tobacco mosaic' is?

    • Lady Guinevere profile image

      Debra Allen 8 years ago from West By God

      I don't know if you are still around HP but I linked this hub to mine:

    • Genuine H profile image

      Genuine H 9 years ago

      Thanks for the tips, I love to make compost , though it's hard work, but worth the effort. I have a compost bin behind our house that I use to stuff occasionally with any material that I found it usefull around my backyard.

    • firefly07 profile image

      firefly07 10 years ago from UK

      great hub and good instructions. Making your own compost is such a great money saver.

    • profile image

      dafla 10 years ago

      Nice article! I wish I had a compost pile, but it's just too much work right now. I am currently just burying my stuff in the ground around my plants.

    • Jennifer profile image

      Jennifer 10 years ago

      We started a compost pile this summer and are loving. I do need to add manure to it though. Thanks for the reminder!


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