Start the Compost in a Bin
Gather Raw Materials
Build Your Compost Pile
The Composting Process
Add the Soil Amendment
Creating a compost pile is a great alternative to disposing of garden refuse and is nature's way of recycling organic material. In as little as three weeks, your compost pile will begin to transform itself into a nutrient-rich soil amendment or fertilizer, which can be added to your garden, yard, or containers.
Containing the pile in a compost bin will save space, hasten decomposition, and help keep it neater. Many types are available at home centers and garden stores. Or, you can build your own.
Stick with yard waste and organic materials such as leaves, grass clippings, hay, weeds, and woodchips. You can also add vegetable scraps, coffee grounds (even the filters), tea bags, or eggshells from your kitchen. Shredded newspaper can also be used.
However, do not use any animal material such as meat scraps, bones, dairy products, grease, or pet or human waste. Not only do they smell unpleasant, but they could contain harmful bacteria.
Build your compost pile in layers. An example would be to start with a 4- to 6-inch layer of coarse material such as chopped brush, then add a 3- to 4-inch layer of grass clippings. On top of that, add a 4- to 6-inch layer of leaves or garden waste and spray it with a hose to moisten it which will help it decompose quicker. Finally, add a 1-inch layer of garden soil. Continue building the pile by adding layers. Of course, you can modify this slightly depending on your materials and the size of your compost bin.
You can aid the composting process by sprinkling a high-nitrogen garden fertilizer (such as Miracle-Gro® Water Soluble Plant Food) over each layer of leaves and garden waste. Turn or aerate the pile periodically to shift material from the outside closer to the center, where it may be heated up and decomposed.
In cold climates, little decomposition occurs in winter except in the center of larger piles. Adding water periodically to keep the composting material moist (about like a damp sponge) will also help the process.
When the composted material is ready to use, it will be dark and crumbly, and it will have an earthy odor. Till or turn it into your garden soil to provide a better growing environment for your plants.
For additional soil, repeat process.
Don't forget to turn the pile and to add moisture every so often.