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Composting is a great way to reduce waste and create a precious, natural fertilizer for your garden. But, do you know the simple steps you need to follow in order to start a successful pile?


Brown matter, green matter, and water. Brown materials are items such as yard waste that add no moisture to the pile. Green materials, such as lawn clippings and food scraps, add a significant amount of moisture. The brown materials provide carbon for your compost, the green materials provide nitrogen, and the water provides moisture to help break down the organic matter. The general rule of thumb for a successful compost bin that breaks down quickly and effectively is two parts brown materials to every one part green material. Your pile will break down regardless of the ratio but this makes for ideal conditions.


Compost is a free, chemical-free fertilizer. Composting reduces food waste, therefore conserving landfill space.

This nutrient dense material can also suppress plant disease. Using your compost pile in place of a conventional fertilizer will not only save you money but encourage growth of organic plants. Often, organic seeds do not work well with traditional, chemical fertilizers. A compost pile can replenish soil that has been depleted of the nutrients needed for growing a successful garden.


An area of bare ground, a fenced in area, aerated garbage can, or a commercial compost bin. You will also need a pitch fork or tool for turning the bin if you are not using a commercial bin that is turn-able. Also, proper air and additional water may be needed to maintain conditions in your pile.

This tumbling compost bin by Good Ideas makes maintaining your pile quick and simple.

If you don’t have a yard to start a compost pile, check your local hardware store for an indoor compost bin, like this SCD Probiotics system.


It is also helpful to have a compost collector in your kitchen. A small bin like these by OXO or Exaco Trading will contain your food scraps indoors until you are ready to take it to your pile.


Using a pitchfork, or similar item, frequently turn your compost pile. Turning will speed up the process and maintain the compost. After adding a large amount of brown material, be sure to slightly water  the compost pile. Remember, the water is what breaks down the organic materials.

Since the compost process works best at temperature between 120 and 150 degrees composting in the warmer months is easier to do, if this is your first attempt at composting best to try in the summer. Once you get a successful pile started, you can continue throughout the year.

Proper particle size is important for an speedy breakdown. The smaller the individual pieces of material are increases the surface area on which the microorganism can feed. The smaller particles also make evenly turning your pile easier.


Decomposition can only efficiently take place when there is an adequate supply of oxygen. Because of this be sure to properly vent your compost bin or pile.

Get The Kids Involved

Composting is the ultimate lesson in reduce, reuse, recycle. Teach your children the principles of all three with this hands-on activity. Let them take their own dinner leftovers to the bin and encourage them to help out with lawn and garden chores. Adding to the bin and using the finished compost on your vegetable garden.

For more tips and tricks to going green, follow our GREEN category.

Joel Muniz Kodmxennaas Unsplash



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