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How to Compost

For such a simple idea–let your organic matter decompose and then recycle that as fertilizer!–composting can be an intimidating (and confusing) undertaking. We’re here to help. It’s a cinch.

What is Composting?

Composting is the natural microbial process that breaks down organic matter like grass and food scraps into a soil amendment like fertilizer or mulch.

Recycling this organic matter is not only good for the environment (less waste going to landfills!), it’s also great for growing gardens, houseplants, and flower beds. The vital nutrients found in those decomposed banana peels, grass clippings, and apple cores feed living plants and improve the soil’s physical properties. Those in the know call it “black gold” for a reason.

Compost Bin Options

Countertop composter

There are a number of small space composters that do all the work for you. Simply press a button once you’ve filled it up with scraps and the machine helps break down the organic matter with no intervention on your part.

Courtesy of

Dual chamber composter

This is an outdoor composter on legs that has two chambers. One to add to and the other to leave alone to “cook.” 

Courtesy of


You can either build your own composter, buy a yard composter, or use no enclosure at all.


Step 1

Choose a spot in your yard that’s out of the way but not inconvenient to get to. We like finding a corner of a yard or garden that gets a mix of sun and shade during the day.

Step 2

Create a base layer with wood chips, twigs, or another natural material that will aerate the soil.

Step 3

Add compost in 4 inch layers that alternate between greens and browns so the carbon and nitrogen is balanced.

Step 4

Water the entire pile and mix it up after every two layers.


*Be sure to completely bury any food scraps in the center of the pile. 

*Add regular soil periodically

Things to Know

Stay hydrated

As you would with soil for any plants, you want to keep the compost pile moist but never soggy. Don’t let it dry out completely!

Fluff Like Rice

Let the pile breathe by fluffing it like rice with a pitchfork regularly. This lets air circulate through the entire pile, thus helping it break down into compost faster. 


The finer the material going into the compost pile, the quicker it will decompose. It’s not a necessary step, but helpful if you have the time.

Ready to Use

Compost can take anywhere from two weeks to two years to break down, depending on the size of your pile, the matter in it, and how you take care of it. Generally speaking, compost is ready to use when it resembles regular soil; it is crumbly and dark brown with no recognizable scraps in it.


Its smelly

It’s either too moist or is lacking oxygen. Water and fluff it more often.

It’s not heating up

Not enough nitrogen. Try adding a nitrogen fertilizer.

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