Make your own compost

Making your own compost is a great way to recycle organic waste, enrich your garden soil, and reduce the need for chemical fertilizers. Compost is created through the decomposition of organic materials, such as kitchen scraps and garden waste. Here’s how to make your own compost:

Materials You’ll Need

  • Compost bin or pile: You can use a designated bin, a pile in your garden, or even a tumbler-style composter.
  • Organic materials: Collect a mix of brown (carbon-rich) and green (nitrogen-rich) materials.
  • Brown materials include dried leaves, straw, cardboard, and newspaper.
  • Green materials include kitchen scraps (fruit and vegetable peels, coffee grounds, etc.), grass clippings, and plant trimmings.
  • Water: Compost needs moisture to decompose properly, so you may need to water it occasionally.

Steps to Make Compost

  • Select a suitable location for your compost bin or pile. It should be well-drained and receive partial sunlight.
  • Composting is all about balance. Layer brown and green materials in your bin or pile. A good rule of thumb is to use a 3:1 ratio of brown to green materials. Start with a layer of brown materials, followed by a layer of green materials.
  • Regularly turn or mix the compost with a pitchfork or a compost aerator. This helps introduce oxygen into the pile, speeding up decomposition.
  • Keep the compost moist but not soggy, similar to a wrung-out sponge. Water it if it becomes too dry or cover it during heavy rains to prevent it from getting too wet.
  • Chop or shred larger materials, like branches, to speed up decomposition.
  • Composting is a natural process, and it takes time. Depending on your composting method and conditions, it can take several months to a year for the compost to fully mature.
  • When the compost is dark, crumbly, and earthy-smelling, it’s ready to use in your garden. This can take anywhere from a few months to a year or more.

What to Compost

  • Brown materials (carbon-rich):
  • Leaves
  • Straw
  • Cardboard (shredded)
  • Newspaper (shredded)
  • Sawdust (in moderation)
  • Green materials (nitrogen-rich):
  • Fruit and vegetable scraps
  • Coffee grounds
  • Grass clippings (in moderation)
  • Plant trimmings
  • Eggshells

What NOT to Compost

  • Meat and dairy products (they can attract pests)
  • Diseased plants
  • Pet waste (it can contain harmful pathogens)
  • Weeds with mature seeds (they can survive composting)

By following these steps and maintaining the right balance of materials, moisture, and aeration, you can create nutrient-rich compost to improve your garden soil. Composting not only reduces waste but also helps you grow healthier plants.