How to Start Composting at Home – A Beginners Guide

Affiliate Disclaimer

As an affiliate, we earn from qualifying purchases. We get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

Food scraps and other yard waste contribute to 30 to 40 percent of the stuff we throw away. Making compost keeps this product out of landfills where they take up space and release Methane an important greenhouse gas.

Your compost pile should be in the range of brown to green. The brown materials give your compost carbon, green materials provide nitrogen, and water help breaks down organic materials from your compost.

In this regard, the composting process needs five fundamental ingredients namely the recycling of waste food components and yard waste. 

How do I start a small compost bin?

The quickest way is to start with a smaller compost bin that can be transported in a pickup truck or trailer.

Place the leaves in the pile, and add newly harvested cover crops such as oats, wheat, rye, and triticale. The plants will reduce the size of your project in a matter of months by multiplying their roots so they use up space in your pile.

To create a moist pile in addition to using coarse leaves from trees, try using lawn clippings from gardens before bringing them into the edges of forests for an extended composting process.

What materials do you need to start composting?

You’ll need:

– A bin or other container that can carry and compost at least two cubic yards of material. This size is often the maximum size available locally, and it’s usually preferable to use a smaller bin because:

•A larger pile heats up more efficiently

•It takes less time to turn the pile and spread the material around

Wood chips or brush if you want to add some carbon matter

– A source of nitrogen such as fresh grass clippings, leaves, spinach, kitchen scraps, etc.

– Water if you want to transform your pile more quickly.

– A delivery method if you do not have a vehicle or access to one. This can be with a wheelbarrow, tub, bucket, or even an old milk jug with the nozzle removed and holes in the bottom of it.

What tools do I need?

– A pitchfork for turning the pile, and a scuffle hoe for fluffing it up.

– You can also use a compost aerator or drum if you want more oxygen into your pile.

– Most compost bins come with either a door, tunnel, or access holes or slots. You need to open and close these as you turn the pile so that oxygen can enter.

– You may also need a compost thermometer if you want to track the temperature of your pile.  

Do I need to turn my compost pile?

A well-maintained compost pile does not require turning as long as it remains damp and oxygen is available for aerobic bacteria. But if your pile gets too dry, you will need to turn it to rehydrate the material.

-If you want a hotter compost (consisting of smaller pieces), use a pitchfork and mix the contents up.

-If you wish to achieve a more mature finished compost (consisting of larger pieces), use a scuffle hoe to fluff the pile.

Which is better: green or brown materials?

A composting mixture with more green than brown usually heats up and decomposes more quickly than one with more brown than green. However, it can be easier to manage a household compost pile if you try to have a balance between brown and green.

The best thing to do would be not to mix the materials, but instead, add each type in separate layers. This will provide you with better results when composting.

How long does it take for compost to start?

Depending on how many times you turn your pile, from five weeks to a year. The more you turn your pile, the faster it will start.

Is it better to add food scraps, or not?

Adding food scraps can accelerate composting if they get hot enough because their proteins break down into readily available nitrogen. However, they probably won’t heat up very much in backyard compost piles because they are less exposed to air and heat than in commercial composting.

If you add food scraps, make sure not to add too much as they can attract rodents and other pests.

How do I start composting in my backyard?

Composting is the process of breaking down organic materials such as leaves, grass clippings, food scraps, and garden waste into a nutrient-rich material that you can use in your gardens. It’s an important part of gardening because it provides healthy soil for plants to grow in.

Composting can be done at home by putting kitchen and yard wastes into a bin or compost pile and then adding brown materials like dried leaves or shredded paper to help decompose the compost pile more quickly. If you want to speed up the process even further, add water to your pile every few days. When turning your compost pile with a pitchfork or scuffle hoe (or using aerobic bacteria), make sure you turn it from time to time so there is oxygen in the decomposing pile.

Here are some composting basics so you can start making your own organic matter for your garden:

– Set up a compost pile or bin with brown and green materials, be sure to add water every few days if it dries out.

– As a rule of thumb, a 2:1 ratio of brown to green materials is recommended.

– You can also include carbon materials such as leaves, paper, and small twigs for texture. A compost pile will be hot enough to kill weed seeds and plant pathogens if it gets to at least 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celsius).

– A compost pile or bin needs to have a balance of green materials, brown materials, and water.

– You can turn your compost with a pitchfork or scuffle hoe (or use aerobic bacteria) to aerate it. This will help restore the microbial activity that has slowed down due to a lack of air and heat. Simply rotate your compost pile to move material from the outside of your bin to the inside.

– If you live in an area where rodents are a problem, consider using scented banana peels or citrus fruit rinds as they will act as natural rodent repellents.

How much does it cost to start composting at home?

It doesn’t cost a lot of money to start composting at home.

In fact, most people can get started for as little as $10. But it’s important to realize that the initial investment is just the beginning…

You’ll need a 5-gallon bucket with lid and air holes punched in it; A drill and 1/8th inch bit; Potting soil (enough to fill your bucket) or peat moss for soil building; 4 cups of spaghumite lime or agricultural grade gypsum, which you can buy online from Amazon.com for about $15. And finally, some food scraps such as vegetable peelings, coffee grounds, and eggshells–preferably no more than 10% of your total, so if you compost about 10 gallons worth of food scraps per month, you’ll need 1 gallon for the compost pile.

Other things to consider are that the constant moisture in a compost pile will rust out metal bins quickly, especially galvanized steel. The best ones are made from plastic or wood, but many people have success with metal garbage cans, as long as they have holes punched in the sides and bottom for air ventilation. Just make sure that you can get your hands into it easily when you’re rotating the pile.

There are also commercially available composting containers with a vented lid on top–just add an inch of water every few days to keep the contents moist. They’re ideal for apartment-dwelling composters who might not have access to a balcony or patio.

As you can see, there’s no real initial investment that makes composting difficult or too expensive. And when you consider the long-term costs and health implications of throwing organic waste in the landfill, it starts to become a no-brainer. Composting is a great way to reduce the amount of waste you send to the landfill and save some money in the process!

What do you put in a compost bin first?

What do you put in a bin for composting materials first? You can put any organic food waste material like veggie scraps, coffee grounds, and eggshells in the compost. Before you put all the compostable stuff in your bin, you want to make sure that it is turned into rich soil. Here are some helpful tips.

Composting Tips for Beginners

1. Add browns and greens

For starters, an easy way to do this is to alternate brown layers (dry leaves) with green layers (grass clippings) as you place it in the bin.

2. Add water throughout the week

Water the compost pile every day to keep it damp and to allow air pockets and passages throughout your compost. You don’t want a puddle, just moisture so that it retains heat and decomposes quickly. If you do not have enough browns or greens, you can add shredded paper.

3. Turn the compost weekly

This aerates the pile and helps to mix up all the ingredients inside. Just lift off parts of your bin, turn it over and return it back to its spot after mixing everything up. This way fresh oxygen is available for your little friends who are busy decomposing the material.

4. Water, turn and wait

Keep your compost moist while it is decomposing. You may have to add more water depending on the outside temps if it’s hot or dry out. If you don’t give it enough water, your compost will be incomplete and not ideal for growing healthy plants later on down the line.

5. Wait for your compost to mature

It may take anywhere from 6-12 months for your compost to reach maturity depending on what you’re adding to it. If the pile gets too hot, turn it down and let everything cool off so that it decomposes properly. You can also add in soil or vermiculite at this stage. This will help the compost become more uniform and ready for your garden or home planters.

You can buy an inexpensive compost bin at your local hardware store, but you may have some scraps laying around that are just waiting to be turned into rich soil. There are also many ways of composting without a bin. So if you’re on a budget or want to do less work, these methods might be for you.

What to put and what not to put in a compost bin?

You can put any organic material like veggie scraps, coffee grounds, and eggshells in the compost. Here are some helpful tips:

– Add browns and greens for starters an easy way to do this is to alternate brown layers (dry leaves) with green layers (grass clippings) as you place it in the bin.

– Add water throughout the week so that it remains damp and hot enough. If you have not enough browns or greens, you can add shredded paper.

– Turn the compost weekly so fresh oxygen is available for your little friends who are busy decomposing them.

– Keep your compost moist while it is decomposing by adding more water when needed depending on the outside temperature if it’s hot or dry out. If you don’t give it enough water, your compost will be incomplete and not ideal for growing healthy plants later on down the line.

– It may take anywhere from 6-12 months for your compost to reach maturity depending on what you’re adding to it. If the pile gets too hot turn it down and let everything cool off so that it decomposes properly.

– You can also add in soil or vermiculite at this stage which will help the compost become more uniform and ready for your garden or home planters. A great guide to know what you should and what you should not put in a compost bin is available here: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/garden-how-to/soil-fertilizers/composting/what-can-be-put-into-a-compost.htm

When should I start my compost bin?

If you’re worried about summer quickly approaching before you have time to get started, fear not. You can start a simple compost bin on your porch or on a concrete slab outside your home just a few days a week and collect the compost later in the season.

You can also collect the compost and hold onto it for next season, or you can even sell it to people who use compost in their garden. People love having rich soil to grow their plants and flowers in!