How to Easily Start Home Composting for Rich Organic Garden Soil


Composting is easy to get started, accessible, and good for both the environment and your garden! Composting provides you with nutrient-dense food for your garden - for free. Don’t be intimidated by the idea, because anyone can compost without a lot of effort or expense. Let’s look at the basics for absolute beginners. 

compost soil in hands

What is composting?

Composting is the simple process of turning organic matter like kitchen scraps, grass clippings, leaves, and other items into a rich, nutrient-dense soil amendment for your garden and landscaping needs. All that you need to do is set up the right environment to allow the natural decomposition process to happen.

Home composting

If you’re planning on composting, your first step is to decide which option is right for you. If you have a yard, you might want to compost in a compost pile or bin outdoors. If you don’t have a yard, there are indoor micro-composting systems using either small self-contained composting systems or using worms (vermicomposting). 

How to make compost info graphic

What to compost

Green materials are fresh plant materials like vegetable scraps, fresh grass clippings, weeds, and garden trimmings. Animal manure is also considered a green material, and we’ll go into the pros and cons of manure in a later blog post. 

Brown materials consist of dry and woody plant material. Think leaves, straw, hay, shredded paper or cardboard, and sawdust.

Do not compost cat or dog waste, weeds that have gone to seed, black walnut leaves, meat, dairy, or other animal products. These items pose safety issues or will harm the quality of your compost.

Sources of compost & materials

It might be hard to make as much compost as you’d like from your own kitchen scraps and yard waste. Where else can you get compost or compostable materials? Check with your neighbors to see if they’re willing to share their kitchen scraps and yard trimmings with you. If you know someone with a farm, they might be willing to even provide manure! 

For those who live in the city, check for local municipal or community composting programs. These programs often offer both waste disposal and low-cost or free compost. Gardening clubs, community gardens, and local farmer’s markets are also great resources for helping you with your composting needs.

Starting Your Own Compost Pile

The simplest method of composting is a good old-fashioned compost pile or bin system. Find a suitable spot with good drainage and add layers of greens and browns to your pile or bins. Try to always end with a layer of brown items, which will help to keep smells down and deter pests.  

After this, you don’t have to do much work for nature to run its course. You can turn the compost occasionally with a pitchfork to aerate the content. Add more compostable items as you get them, always alternating greens with browns and adding moisture as needed. 

composting plants

Composting In A Tumbler

Tumbler composting uses a rotating drum or another container. This container is designed to make it easy for you to mix the materials and add air to speed up the process. Add a mix of green and brown materials to your tumbler as available, and rotate every few days to distribute heat and add airflow. This will help the bacteria inside to break down the organic material efficiently.


If you’re composting indoors, you might be interested in using worms to compost your materials. This process, called vermicomposting, is much faster than traditional composting, doesn’t produce bad odors, and can be done in small spaces. Worms are fed kitchen scraps and other compostable materials in a self-sustaining system. You just provide the worms with plenty of food and moisture and use the worm castings as your soil amendment.

Ready to Start?

Composting is super easy, even for beginners. The basic ingredients are compostable materials and a space for Mother Nature to do her magic. There are some basic guidelines to follow, but we’re confident that you can handle it. 

We’ll have more tips, tricks, and details about composting in later articles, so keep an eye out.

Written by Teresa Chandler

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