How to Make your Own Compost

Composting is something my hubby and I do and love.  Compost is possibly the most efficient and useful way of disposing of household waste; nearly 40% of this waste is compostable. Compost is then be used on the garden as an organic and valuable fertilizer and soil improver. If this same waste goes into landfill, it becomes toxic and gives off greenhouse gases. Make use of this wonderful garden asset like us by learning how to make your own compost.

Why make compost?

Compost is a natural, organic substance that makes a superior mulch, fertilizer, soil conditioner and improver while stimulating healthy root growth in plants. My summer garden can’t get enough of the stuff. It helps to improve the texture, aeration and structure of all types of soil as well as improving the nutrient balance and moisture-holding capacity of the soil. Composting helps to sequester carbon in the soil by avoiding its release into the atmosphere. This translates as compost being an environmentally-friendly, cheap, effective garden product that cuts down on watering.

Composting is simply a way of disposing of vegetative household waste in an environmentally- friendly and useful manner. Waste disposal is becoming a major problem in the 21st century, with landfills over-flowing with the detritus from a throw-away society.

When your compost is ready, dig it into your soil before planting, spread it on top as mulch or make compost tea to feed your plants to promote healthy growth and better flowering and fruiting. Compost helps your plants resist disease and insect attack.

What can be composted? 

Almost any kitchen and garden waste can be added to the compost, although some materials will take longer to completely break down than others. There are a few exceptions to what can be added to a compost bin, like citrus, meat, fats and animal droppings.

Green matter, like grass clippings, weeds and soft leaves, are high in nitrogen and should be added to three times as much brown matter, which is high in carbon, like twigs, straw and dry leaves.

Types of composting 

There are several varieties of compost bins and tumblers now on the market. Take your time to do some research before you buy, so that you get the most appropriate composter for your needs. Or if you want to build one, check out my friend Jeff’s post on how to make your own compost bin from scratch.

You can have a compost pile or use a compost bin. There are basically two types of composting, passive and active or managed.

Passive composting is basically having a compost pile that just decomposes on its own. It requires little time and attention after you have collected the various materials and built the pile. This method is the slow way to make compost but the least interactive. You can have a big pile of waste or construct a large bin using timber, metal sheeting, wire or concrete blocks to keep the pile looking neater.

Start the pile with woody material to allow for good aeration from the bottom. Keep adding material as it comes to hand but try to cover green matter and kitchen waste with brown matter or soil to improve the composting process.

Check at the bottom of the pile after a year and remove any finished compost with a spade. Continue adding waste and removing compost this way for years.

Managed composting involves turning your compost pile to aerate it and speed up the process. Intensely managed composts can produce the finished product in less than four weeks. Choose the method that suits your commitment to time and effort. To speed up the process, shred the waste and chop woody pieces before adding to the pile; also layer the ingredients in the correct 3:1 ratio of green to brown waste. This is best achieved by building the compost pile all at once. The temperature of the compost is an indication of the decomposition process.

To keep decomposition going, make sure the compost is neither too wet nor too dry. Add dry material if soggy or hose it if dry. If the pile becomes too compacted it will become anaerobic and decomposition will stop. Add some woody material and aerate with a garden fork.

By using these tips on how to make your own compost you too can reap the same rewards as I have in your garden.

So, have I convinced you to start composting? If you do already compost, how do you like it?


How to Make your Own Compost — 15 Comments

  1. Obviously, it is a much better route to take. I am not a big gardener as of yet, but my grandma has a big garden and I don’t think she has ever made her own compost!

    • Hey Lisa, you’re bang on with your use of eggshells. However, you do have to use quite a bit of them to provide the nutritive value you’re looking for. The main nutrients in eggshells are carbon and calcium (in the form of calcium carbonate – a very soil friendly type of calcium). Remember to blend them up as small as possible, so they breakdown more quickly in your pile. I like to use a coffee grinder.

  2. Hi Miss T., I’ve got a quick question…in your article you mentioned not to include citrus or animal droppings in your compost pile. Aren’t animal droppings just manure? Isn’t manure the backbone of high-quality compost? Re the citrus, I have never had any issues adding it to my piles. Everything in moderation, right?

  3. We also compost. I only started a tiny garden last year but I compost is where it is at. We also have to pay for our trash removal and composting does help us keep that cost down too.

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