How to Compost for Beginners - Save money & Create FREE Fertilizer!

3 comments by Luke Marion

Ever wonder how to get beautiful results in your garden? Every feel like there is. secret? Well there isn't one. It's Compost that makes the biggest difference. Composting at home is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and create rich, nutrient-dense soil for your garden. It's also an easy and affordable way to reduce the amount of waste that goes into landfills. In this blog post, we'll cover the basics of how to compost at home, including what materials to compost, how to set up a compost pile, and how to maintain it.

First, let's talk about what materials you can compost at home. The best materials for composting are green and brown materials. Green materials include things like grass clippings, fruit and vegetable scraps, and coffee grounds. These materials are high in nitrogen, which helps to break down the other materials in the compost pile. Brown materials include things like leaves, twigs, and paper. These materials are high in carbon, which helps to balance out the nitrogen in the compost pile. Regardless of what you go with, make sure the material is all roughly the same size. This will help it to break down faster and more evenly. For example, sticks should be chipped, leaves should be ran over with a lawn mower, and this will reduce their size to help them break down faster. 

When setting up your compost pile, it's important to have a balance of green and brown materials. You can start by layering green and brown materials in a pile on the ground, or in a bin or container. You can also use a compost tumbler, which makes it easy to turn the pile and keep it aerated. The size of your compost pile will depend on how much space you have available. A good rule of thumb is to have a pile that is at least 3 feet by 3 feet.

To maintain your compost pile, it's important to keep it moist, but not too wet. You can do this by adding water to the pile as needed, or by covering it with a tarp to keep in moisture. You should also turn the pile regularly, which helps to aerate it and speed up the decomposition process. You can turn the pile with a pitchfork or a compost aerator. I find a pitchfork is easiest because of the thin prongs that help to flip and move the sometimes clumpy material. 

It's also important to keep your compost pile at the right temperature. The ideal temperature for a compost pile is between 130 and 160 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the temperature range that allows the microorganisms that break down the materials in the pile to thrive. You can use a compost thermometer to check the temperature of your pile. If the temperature is too low, you can add more green materials to the pile to increase the nitrogen levels and raise the temperature. If the temperature is too high, you can add more brown materials to the pile to decrease the temperature.

When your compost pile is ready, it should be dark, crumbly and have a rich, earthy smell. It can take anywhere from a few months to a year for a compost pile to fully break down, depending on the materials and the conditions of your pile. Once the compost is ready, it can be used as a soil amendment in your garden, or as a fertilizer for your lawn. Sifting your compost is also an option as sometimes most of your pile is finished, but some other parts take longer to break down. You can sift your compost with hardware cloth stapled to a frame made from 2x4's. We keep it simple in our garden! 

In summary, composting at home is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and create nutrient-dense soil for your garden. To get started, you'll need a balance of green and brown materials, a space to set up your compost pile, and a little bit of time and effort to maintain it. With a little bit of patience and care, you'll be able to turn your food scraps and yard waste into rich, fertile soil that will help your plants thrive.


  • Mark

    I’ve been composting using worms as well. Specifically red wigglers. I’d say the yield time is about the same. But there is no turning the soil so that’s a plus but there are also some things you shouldn’t add in with them like high levels of acid such as lemons oranges and so on. If you guys are into composting start looking into this way as well.

  • Lillian

    Try going bigger on your compost pile. Other tricks are: stir in some bacteria, adding some top soil can add the bacteria you’re missing.
    You might not have enough nitrogen, add something green, blood meal, or bone meal.

  • Darci

    Is there any way to get my compost hot in the winter ? It is sitting at 40 degrees. I’ve added greens, I’ve aerated, it’s 3×3 … well, maybe 2-1/2 by 3 and i just can seem to warm it up. Do i have to wait until we get some warmer weather to get it goi g again
    I have had a great yield last summer/fall

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published