Learn How to Compost in Less Than an Hour

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Introduction: Learn How to Compost in Less Than an Hour

Learn how to compost! You don't have to have a green thumb to successfully create a healthy compost bin in your own backyard.

These instructions will help you learn the basics of the composting process. Composting is a cheap, environmentally beneficial way to enrich soil for gardening and landscaping. It helps prevent pollution by reusing organic materials instead of filling up landfills. Composting replaces the need for harmful fertilizers and pesticides, and also prevents erosion. No experience or fancy equipment is needed to start your own compost pile at home. This is not an exact science - just an easy, hassle-free way to benefit your yard. Just follow these simple steps, and within a few months your compost will be ready to add to your garden!  



HOW IT WORKS

The composting process is comprised of four main parts: air, water, browns, and greens.

AIR : In order for fast decomposition, the compost pile must have plenty of air. This means that it is essential for the compost materials to be regularly “fluffed” and turned.

WATER : The pile should always be moist, not wet. As one compost-guide describes, the pile should be “moist as a
wrung-out sponge.” If the pile is too dry, the decomposition will be slowed. If the pile is too wet, air is kept from
circulating in the pile and decomposition will slow.

BROWNS : Dry and dead plant material. This includes straw, brown weeds, autumn leaves, wood chips, and sawdust. These materials often need to be moistened before added to the compost.

GREENS : Fresh plant material. This includes green weeds, fruit and vegetable scraps, green leaves, coffee grounds, tea bags, etc.  

Step 1: List of Materials

Gather the following materials:
-pitchfork or rake
-gloves
-chicken wire (24 in x 10 ft)
-zip ties/cable ties
-gardening soil (1-2 bags of 40 lbs)
-hose/watering can
-compost material (refer to table of "What to Compost") 
-4 wooden stakes 3’ - 4’ tall
-mallet hammer
-a friend willing to lend a hand!


What to Compost: 
-coffee grounds
-grass clippings
-leaves
-shredded paper (omit non-recyclable)
-tea bags (be sure to remove any staples) 
-vegetable and fruit scraps
-wood chips
-cardboard
-yard scraps (old plants, flowers, and small prunings)
-egg shells (be sure they are free from yolk residue)
-hay/straw 

What Not to Compost: 
-ashes
-charcoal
-dairy products
-food sauces
-invasive weeds
-meat/fish/poultry
-bones
-non-organics (plastic, metal, glass, etc.) 
-pet feces
-treated wood
-any material containing preservatives/toxins


Step 2: Choose a Location

Choose a shady location in your backyard, preferably near a water source (e.g., a faucet). 

Step 3: Constructing the Bin

Fasten chicken wire into a cylinder using plastic ties.
This may require some assistance.

Step 4: Stake It!

Weave wooden stakes through chicken wire to secure bin to the ground. 

Step 5: Secure Bin

Secure bin by hammering stakes into the ground until bin is stable. 

Step 6: Add Leaves

Add approximately 6 inches of leaves into the bin.
Remember you don't have to make it exact. 

Step 7: Add Soil

Add a layer of soil, enough to cover the leaves. 

Step 8: Water Lightly

Water lightly.
Don't over water. Should be damp as a wrung-out sponge. 

Step 9: Alternate Layers

Alternate adding layers of leaves and soil, until the bin is half-way full. 

Step 10: Add Compost Materials!

Add compost materials to bin. 
Refer to list of "What to Compost" and "What Not to Compost."  

Step 11: Mix It Up!

Stir to incorporate compost, leaves, and soil together with pitchfork or rake. 

Step 12: Stir, Water, Repeat

Stir and water lightly a few days a week.  

Step 13: Enjoy Your Compost!

Continue to add compost materials to your bin, and enjoy this eco-friendly alternative to keep your garden growing! 

Step 14: Troubleshooting

Why does my compost smell bad?
This could be caused by compaction.
Solution : Aerate! Stir the mixture more often to create more air movement.
Or, this could be caused by over-watering.
Solution: Add dry leaves or wood chips to soak up water and stir often to promote air flow.

How do I know when my compost pile is ready to be mixed into my garden?
If the pile has:
- shrunk significantly (up to half its original volume) OR
- the original organic materials (the leaves in Step 5) are no longer recognizable OR
- the compost pile is more crumbly than solid
the compost pile is ready. This can take a few months, be patient!

There are flies around my compost bin - how do I get rid of them?
Flies should not be attracted to your compost pile if the food scraps are stirred under the soil and leaves.
Dumping food scraps on top of the pile will attract flies.

Why are there ants in my compost pile?
Ants are a sign that the compost is too dry. Remember to lightly water the compost pile regularly.  

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    52 Discussions

    Actually it's fun to add potatoes that are 'seeding' to the compost when it's nearly ready (say early spring) and in a few months when the compost is ready to be spread out over the veg-patch one gets loads of fresh (small) potatoes.
    Par-boil - cool and freeze. Then deep-fry. Great with quiche and a fresh rocket salad.
    Alternatively surround the upper wire with clear or at least translucent-plastic (to keep out vertically challenged carrot flies and such) and grow carrots, parsnips or other root-crops. Poke a stick in moist compost fill with good earth mixed with sand and top with young plant. The root-crop will grow straight and look, clean and chop better/easier.
    This will also keep your growing season going longer as the rotting compost emits heat and a light translucent 'lid' will keep out frost and one can have crops well into winter. Surround the basket with black(covered) containers filled with (rain/shower)water to keep heat for even longer season.

    3 replies

    is it possible that it drain the compost nutrient to produce potato ?

    I am interested in knowing more about carrot flies. Not sure how you say to place the plastic..and why vertically challenged. I love learning new things.

    Why in the beginning do you layer then mix? Doesn't mixing defeat the purpose of layering? And also, if there is a heavy rain, should i cover it?

    Why are bones in the "don't compost" list? Wouldn't they provide useful nutrients like calcium? Bone meal is considered an organic fertelizer and that's just crushed up bone.

    1 reply

    Bones typically still have some meat on them and meat will rot (p.u.) and attract flies.

    if you boiled the meat off the bones, you could probably add them, but it'd probably be a lot easier to pick up some bone meal.

    Hi! I am looking for ways to compost,etw said throwing banana peels, left-over veggies, old fruit etc.. Can anyone tell me if it would harm my plants?

    2 replies

    Sorry I did not add it will not harm your plants, I water my plants with leftover coffee and some water diluted, and also sprinkle coffee grinds in their surrounding soil, year round. They seem to like this indoors or out. Just don't put anything cooked in oil or butter. Hope this helps. Does seem to take a while, do not understand how some are quicker at making compost then others. Still learning.

    I purchased a canister with a lid, and throw egg shells, coffee grinds, tea bags and filters, fruits and veggie peelings in. Anything in raw state. So it is not so unsightly on the kitchen counter. I think the one I purchased cost $1 at a yard sale and may have been an old canister. with the clamp on lid. It is black. Then when it is full I take it outside to my homemade from an old bathtub Composter.
    I have a very heavy metal cover for it. I am getting compost, however, it needs a lot of churning and turning, and find that adding a few containers of worms does a really good job. If things are large like banana peels, cantaloupe skins,
    corn cobs, I cut them down to smaller pieces, either through the food processor, or with the cobs, I let the worms take what they want and bury the rest in the
    garden. It seems to decompose over the winter months. Grass and leaves helps also. Thinking of just doing one with grass and leaves this year, to see what
    works best. Also think that worms do a great job, so would like to do worm farm.

    My dog likes to do her "business" either close to or a lo of times in my flower garden. I have a seperate area on the back side of my home for veggie gardening. Is the dog business going to end up being unhealthy if the only thing I plant in there is flowers? The plants seem to love the doggie doo fertilizer. I would never put it on my veggies though that's why the 2 are completely seperated.

    very helpful … thanks for posting.

    I have 2 questions though ::
    1) the compost bin seems quite small regarding the time it will rest before being usable. True is is meant to shrink, but as one will also add almost daily some fresh stuff, it may be a lot for such an (apparently) small volume…

    2) why some organic materials are excluded from the compost ?
    I understand that anything that contains, or may have contained contaminants such as chemical / industrial fertilizers, treated wood, etc… must be discarded. But what about toxins ? They are naturally all over the place !!!…
    Then why not ashes / charcoal ? They are used as natural fertilizers in many places : the first fertilization process humanity invented was to burn fields before ploughing them and mixing ashes with earth by the same process…
    Same question for dairy products, food sauces (for instance homemade ketchup is only grounded tomatoes and spices) …
    It seems quite clear to me that bones should be written off the list as they take so long to decay, but why meat, fish, poultry (unless the reason why is that you don't want to attract animals such as dogs, foxes, forage cats rats, etc…) should be too ?…
    Same question for pet feces : animal manure is still the best manure / fertilizer on earth (remember a 3 decades ago the Chinese used human manure to fertilize their fields !…), so why discard them ?…
    The last thing that somewhat puzzles me me is is egg yolk residues : are they so toxic that they won't decay properly and / or ruin the whole process ????…
    I would be very happy if you could answers us (if you got time and patience, of course… otherwise, no harm done !…).
    Cheers !…

    7 replies

    There are many reasons why you should not put sauces, fattys or high protein stuff (meat, eggs, feces) in your compost many thay have already mention but the main reason is simple.
    You want to be friendly to the neighbours all around you.
    Fatty acids and proteins will make the compost STINK really really awful.
    Throwing oily or greasy food scraps into the compost is the first mistake many people do and they never go back to composting after that happens.

    Thank you … That explains why my neighbor's wife doesn't want to befriend me !!… OK, only joking, but still don't want to loose my neighbors nice friendship.

    "but why meat, fish, poultry (unless the reason why is that you don't want to attract animals such as dogs, foxes, forage cats rats, etc…) should be too ?…"  Fatty materials don't compost, they rot.  Composting is not the same as rotting.

    "pet feces : animal manure is still the best manure / fertilizer on earth"   Not necessarily, there are things like worms that dogs and cats get and all sorts of pathogens that jump the species barrier.  So, no, not "the best stuff on earth" 

    Egg yolks? Dunno perhaps related to fats and will rot- you'll have to google it sometime.
    Here's a linkey-
    http://www.compostinfo.com/tutorial/CanICompostIt.htm

    Marcintosh

    I've no problem with putting a scrap waste-pipe buried into the ground and partly filling over a year with doggie-doo doo and then (carefully) lifting the pipe cover the poo with some soil and then plant a tree/shrub on it..
    If you can burn the bones (in a wood-burner) and use the ash on your veggies - potash it's called. Don't use coal-ash on vegetables - all sorts of heavy metals (quiet kind) in it - but again fine for shrubs and trees - in small amounts - you don't want your garden to be a toxic dump - and always remember what you put in the flowers this year gets on the veggies next year. Shrubs and trees usually last a few years - at least.

    Well this turns into an above-my-level conversation and I don't want to make a fool of myself. So I'll leave it at that.
    But keep posting : that makes me learn more.

    To all of those who read this post : have a nice week-end !.
    Spring is here, at least in the northern hemisphere, and I hope you all have happy moments ! …

    YOU CAN ADD EGGSHELLS FOE CALSIUM ,DOG CAT AND HUMAN FESSES IS TOXIC THE ONLY AMINAILFESSES YOU CAN COMPOST IS HORSE COW CHICKEN,BECAUSE THEY GET GRAIN AND HAY WHICH IS COMPOSTABLE