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Everything Composting: Why and How you Should do it

Updated on November 23, 2014

Composting is a simple, easy way to help the environment.

This site will give you all the information you need on why you should compost as well as advice on what kind of composting bin you should use. There are plenty of compost containers to choose from: a simple compost pile to a fancy compost tumbler.

Why Compost? First of all, composting is good for the world. You reduce the amount of waste that goes into the landfill. Second, you have a rich source of organic matter that is perfect for your garden, or flower-beds. Third, it's fun to watch all your waste turn into an amazingly rich soil. You and your kids will be fascinated by the process.


My experience with composting

My parents had a big backyard garden when I was a kid. When I was about 8 years old, there was a program in my town offering a free wooden compost bin to people who attended a 2-hour class on composting. My dad took advantage of the offer and came home with a compost. I remember how fascinated it was watching the compost process in action. I would faithfully take out the waste from our kitchen, even in the cold Canadian winters. I would turn the compost over every couple weeks, and give it a bit of water if it hadn't rained in a while. I loved being there when the compost was emptied to see the beautiful dirt that would come out. I loved spreading it all around the garden.

These days, I still have a big garden in my own backyard and I faithfully compost all year 'round. I empty it every spring in preparation for the upcoming gardening season.


What exactly is compost?

Compost is simply decomposed organic matter that can be used to add to your soil for gardening.


What to compost?

There are lots of things you can compost. Here is just a partial list. Check the links below for more information.

kitchen waste

lawn clippings (use thin layers so they don't mat down)

chopped leaves (large leaves take a long time to break down)

shredded branches

garden plants (use disease-free plants)

shredded paper

weeds (before they go to seed)

straw or hay


wood ash (sprinkle lightly between layers)


tea leaves and coffee grounds


What not to compost

If you want a healthy, happy compost there are a list of things that you shouldn't put it in:

waste from carnivorous pets

meat scraps

weeds gone to seed

dairy products

wood ashes/sawdust

anything with too many chemicals

Kitchen Compost Collector

Exaco ECO-2000 2.4 Gallon Kitchen Compost Waste Collector
Exaco ECO-2000 2.4 Gallon Kitchen Compost Waste Collector

Store under your sink to collect your kitchen matter before you take it outside to the compost. Perfect for reducing any bad smells.


Do you Compost?

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What type of composting bin should I get?

There are plenty of choices ranging from the simple pit in the corner of your garden to a more fancy tumbler composter that you can turn easily, which aids in the process. I prefer one that is enclosed on at least 3 sides, because you want your organic matter to stay close together, to gain enough heat for the composting process to happen. If you have one with a lid, this will help it to not get too soggy. If you have one that you can turn easily, either with a handle or pitchwork, this helps to get oxygen into your pile, which also aids in composting.

I've picked a few of my favorite models to feature on this site.

Do you Compost Everything?

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How can I make the Composting process happen faster?

There are a few things you can do to speed up the compost process.

1. Composts needs air and water. You can simply add some water to your compost if it hasn't rained in a while. But not too wet, because it also needs air. To add air, you can use a pitchfork and turn the compost once/week or so.

2. The smaller the pieces that you put in, the faster the composting happens. Crush up those egg shells, rip up that paper and cut up the watermelon shell for best results.

3. In order for composting to happen, there needs to be a certain temperature. Keep your compost densely piled together and not spread out over the whole area if you don't have much in it.

Compost can be made in as little as 2 weeks if the ideal conditions are met.

Do you compost? Why or why not?

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    • turtleface profile image

      turtleface 6 years ago

      @pixelposy: you should look into vermiculture, it can be done indoors... such as the basement. Worms process the compost so quickly that many times it doesn't even have time to decay.

    • turtleface profile image

      turtleface 6 years ago

      Yes, I do compost and I do it through container vermiculture. It works best for me because I live in high rise and I can compost in my storage unit. I've learned that some of the things they say not to compost actually can be when done with vermiculture. I also question why some things (like wood ash) are not to be composted... being that they are so rich in organic matter and mineral deposits. Quick tip, with vermiculture the worms love cardboard and coffee grounds.

    • hysongdesigns profile image

      hysongdesigns 6 years ago

      Yes, I've been an organic gardener since I was 10 years old. Love to turn 'waste' into 'black gold'. BTW if you have a good hot pile there is no reason to leave out meat, bones, etc. Bury them deep in the middle and a good hot pile will take care of them without attracting pests.

    • scruffymind profile image

      scruffymind 6 years ago

      some great resources, thanks

    • bernie74 lm profile image

      bernie74 lm 6 years ago

      I haven't started yet, we are due to move soon so I will hopefully be starting at the new house, thanks for sharing the lens

    • lilymom24 profile image

      lilymom24 6 years ago

      I have a compost tumbler and a cold pile but have slacked off lately. I need to get back to it.

    • pixelposy profile image

      pixelposy 6 years ago

      I would love to have a composter, but our city does not allow them so we must buy our compost in bags to add to the garden. :(

    • profile image

      Geeve 6 years ago

      Excellent lens Jackie. A fascinating subject and some beautiful illustrations. Blessed by a composting angel :)

    • ChrisDay LM profile image

      ChrisDay LM 6 years ago

      We garden organically/biodynamically so compost is absolutely essential to our vegetable growing.