Composting – Basics, Tips And Tricks


It’s been called black gold and it is estimated that a cubic yard of compost is worth $562. Over 60% of what we put in landfills is organic waste. It may be dirty… but compost is rich.

If you are new to composting, or an expert looking to improve, you’ll find some simple composting tricks and tips that could help you out a bit.

With everything from changing the temperature, to adding coffee grounds to compost bins to attract worms, you’re sure to step up your composting game using these tips and tricks!

To start with you need a composting bin. You can build one or buy them. Here are a few resources for building your own compost bin:

Continue reading to get more composting tips and tricks.

Composting To Build Healthier Soil

Composting comes down to building better and healthier soil… along with not filling up the landfill.

Below you’ll find 25 tips to help you make the best compost for your needs along with a few little tidbits to make things more efficient in the compost bin.

Composting Tips

1. Grass clippings provide a compost pile with necessary nitrogen. However, also make sure that you mix it in with some “brown” materials also which add carbon.

They are both needed for rich compost and fast decomposition. Piles that are comprised of only grass will start to smell, slow down, and compact.

2. Do not compost animal products, pet droppings, or fats. They can spread disease and attract pests to your pile.

3. Plain white paper or newspaper is great for composting – just don’t forget to shred it first to help speed the process up.

4. Do you have compost? When it is done it should smell, feel and look like dark, rich soil. Any items that you placed in the pile should be unrecognizable.

5. Worms really like coffee grounds. More details about coffee grounds on plants.

6. If you are going to add ashes into your compost, make sure you do it sparingly.

This is because they are alkaline which can affect the pile’s pH. Acidic materials, on the other hand, include oak leaves and pine needles.

7. Avoid using plants treated with herbicides and/or pesticides (lawn clippings and weeds).

8. The microbes which break your compost pile down need to have a balanced diet of carbon and nitrogen.

Nitrogen is derived from green materials like grass clippings, manure, and food scraps.

Carbon is derived from brown materials like shredded newspaper, wood chips, hay, and dead leaves. It works best to have a ratio containing equal portions according to weight (rather than volume).

9. Seaweed and algae are great things to add to your compost pile. Before using them, make sure you rinse any salt off first.

10. Usually finished composed ends up being less than half of original materials’ volume, but it is a lot denser.

11. Your compost pile should be kept in direct sunlight and stored inside a black plastic bin during the winter so that the composting process continues.

You can use hay bales to insulate the pile even further.

12. Wooden pallets made great composting bins. Place a pallet onto the ground. Then drive two metal stakes into each of the sides. Place an extra pallet on top of each other for support and then your bin is ready to put compost in.

13. Straw is a great carbon source for a compost pile. However, it might have weed seeds in it. so be sure the pile is properly “cooking” first.

14. Compost decomposes the quickest at 120 to 160 degrees F. At lower temperatures decomposition will still take place, but it will take a lot longer.

15. The idea compost pile size is 3′ x 3′ x 3′ at least. It’s a manageable size for turning and a good size to retain heat while allowing for airflow still.

16. Keep your compost bin or pile in direct sun for faster composting.

17. In winter don’t throw your kitchen waste or food waste away – try using an indoor composter.

18. A compost pile should stay damp but not be too wet. When building your compost pile, be sure each of the layers is moist when it is added.

In addition, the surface should stay damp (like a sponge that has been wrung out), especially in the summer.

19. Does your compost pile stink? It is most likely caused by a large number of anaerobic microbes working to break your compost down, but in the process creating quite an odor.

To reduce the anaerobic process, your pile should be regulated on a regular basis. That will create air space and limit anaerobic microbes as well as less stinky ones.

20. To get a new compost pile started use a compost starter, blood meal, alfalfa meal, cottonseed meal, or aged manure.

These are all rich in nitrogen and can give the microbes a jump-start as they are breaking the organic material down into compost.

21. Anything that was alive once is excellent to put in your compost bin. This includes grass clippings, vegetables, and leaves.

22. A compost pile can be either thrown in all together and then mixed well or layered – thin alternating brown and green layers. Either way will work.

23. Finished compost should be soaked in water in order to “brew” compost tea, which is a liquid rich in nutrients that can be used for watering your houseplants or plants in your backyard or garden and for foliar feeding.

24. Approximately 2 to 4 weeks before you plant, add finished compost into your garden. This will give the compost some time for stabilizing and integrating with the soil.

25. Use a compost turner for aerating your pile every two weeks for faster results.

Making compost does require some effort, as it does take time for micro-organisms to break components down.

However, you can do a few things to make the composting process faster.

5 Simple Step-by-step Instructions For Faster Composting Organic Waste

Contain it: Composting utilizes air and the heat that is produced by organic matter breaking down transforms the waste into soil.

A compost bin can either be built or purchased for containing your garden and yard waste.

A compost bin that is carefully placed can either be hidden behind a decorative shrub or blend in with the landscaping so that your yard stays organized and neat-looking.

Toss your waste matter in: Place both brown waste and green waste into your compost pile. Brown waste includes dead leaves or straw and green waste includes weeds and leaves that have been freshly cut.

Since brown matter is partially decomposed it helps to speed up the breakdown of your fresh green waste.

If you don’t happen to have enough brown waste to add to your compost, speak with your Atlanta landscaper about making use of a compost starter so that the process can be sped up.

Wet it down: One of the key factors in compost matter breaking down is moisture. So grab your hose and then lightly mist your compost bin contents with water.

It isn’t necessary to thoroughly saturate your compost pile in order for the decomposition process to start.

However, nothing will be harmed if the waste does end up getting drenched.

Allow it to breathe: Waste matter beneath the surface has a tendency to break down the most quickly.

One or two times per week, take your shovel out and dig into your compost heap. Turn over the organic waste matter to get the top layer mixed in with the lower layer which is rapidly decomposing.

That will allow air into the whole waste pile, and you will end up getting healthy soil much more quickly than if you didn’t mix the pile on a regular basis.

Let nature help you: Earthworms can make your work a lot easier. They help to keep the soil aerated and healthy. Dump some onto your waste pile, and then let them go to work.

Items You Can Compost

Composting not only reduces the growing sizes of our landfills but is a key component of the eco-friendly, green puzzle.

Composting is simply taking waste destined for landfills and turning the waste into usable, nutrient-rich soil, perfect for gardening.

Most people new to the compost game focus on kitchen scraps, which is only the tip of the composting iceberg.

Check out this compiled list of 80+ items you can compost at and this list of 35 items here… some of the items may surprise you!

Trench Composting Simplest Way To Compost Kitchen Scraps

Trench composting is one of the simplest ways for composting kitchen scraps. The University of Illinois Extension is a good article on different composting methods along with answers to many of your composting questions.

Could Composting Be Making You Sick?

We usually think of composting being healthy… and for the most part, it is.

However, there may be some things we should be aware of. We don’t want to breathe in chemicals and chemical dust so always wear a dust mask when turning our compost.

Check this interesting post at Urban Survival on what is termed “compost lungs” and beware with your composting.

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