Composting Guide for Beginners

Composting 101: A beginner's guide to composting

Compost is generally referred to as the “gold of the gardener.” There is a pretty good reason for that. Composting transforms kitchen scraps into nutrient-rich soil. Our composting guide for beginners will explain the basics to you.

Without composting, we would not be able to grow our plants in the manner that we do now. Aside from animal manure, compost is basically one of the “original fertilizers.” 

If you’re new to composting, there are some basics to familiarize yourself with, to be sure you’re doing it correctly and effectively.

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Composting 101: a beginners guide to composting
A composting bin in garden.

What Is Compost?

Composting is the action of recycling natural ingredients. This includes items such as the potato peels and carrot stems from your kitchen. Lawn trimmings are also used in compost bins. This generates a lot of action on a microbial level, that will really benefit your soil and plants.

Once the material has decomposed into a balanced compost  mixture, use it as food for your garden or your lawn. There are also certain ingredients that you may use in order to make the decomposition process much faster. Hay and shredded paper are effective due to their smaller size, and carbon-rich greens are helpful as well. 

Why Should We Make Compost?

First things first: the question is “why not make compost?” Compost is free for anyone who has a source of organic waste, including food scraps or plant clippings from the garden.

That means you will never have to spend a dime on enriched soil ever again. Compost allows the soil to retain the moisture and the nutrients better, improving its quality and allowing your plants to grow.

How Do You Create Compost?

coffee grounds-composting 101
Coffee grounds ready for composting.

The action of creating compost has quite a few details to consider – but right now, it boils down to these three elements:

  • Get a Container: To ensure the compost forms nicely, you will need some sort of container where the matter-breaking bacteria can do their job effectively. Don’t get anything too fancy, as you are dealing with decomposing material after all. But you do want something that will allow you to periodically turn the compost. This means it either needs to be large enough to be “stirred,” or is specially designed for rotation. Here is an example of a composting container that can be “churned” like a cement mixer.
  • Add the Ingredients: For compost to form, you will need a mix of brown and green matter – along with some moisture that can keep the bacteria nice and healthy. Kitchen waste and grass are great as green matter. Brown matter is anything wood-based, such as wood chips, un-dyed paper, and dry leaves.
  • Provide Maintenance: Compost should be tended to now and again. Aerate the compost every week by turning it with a shovel or pitchfork. This ensures that it decomposes evenly. You also want to regularly add fresh material, to keep the bacteria active and well-fed.

So how do you know when your compost is ready to be used?

Once it is finished, the compost should have a crumbly feel and a dark brown color. It is a process that can take months (even years), but the result is completely worth it.

By creating your own compost, you will be able to keep every plant in your garden growing beautifully, without the cost of fertilizer or the hazard of manufactured chemicals. Visit our service page for fertilization for more great info on keeping your lawn healthy. 

Picture of Janice Nelson

Janice Nelson

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