A Complete Guide to Composting: The Dos and Donts

Hey there fellow green thumbs! If you’re looking to improve your gardening game and do your part for the environment, composting is an absolute must.

Not only does it reduce waste and greenhouse gas emissions, but it also produces nutrient-rich soil that can help your plants thrive. But composting isn’t as simple as just throwing all your kitchen scraps in a pile – there are some important dos and don’ts to keep in mind.

In this complete guide to composting, we’ll cover everything you need to know to get started, from choosing the right container to troubleshooting common problems.

So whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just starting out, read on for our expert tips and tricks on how to create the perfect compost pile. Trust us – your plants (and the planet) will thank you!

Understanding The Basics Of Composting

Did you know that an estimated 30% of household waste is made up of organic matter that could be composted? That’s a lot of potential for creating nutrient-rich soil for your garden!

Composting is the process of breaking down organic matter, such as food scraps and yard waste, into a dark, crumbly substance known as compost. It’s a natural way to improve soil fertility and reduce waste.

To get started with composting, it’s important to understand the basics. First, you need a balance of ‘greens’ and ‘browns.’ Greens are nitrogen-rich materials like fresh grass clippings or kitchen scraps. Browns are carbon-rich materials like dried leaves or straw. A good ratio is roughly 2 parts browns to 1 part greens.

Secondly, you need to create an environment that allows for the breakdown of these materials. This means providing adequate moisture and oxygen. You can achieve this by regularly adding water (but not too much!) and turning or aerating your compost pile.

With time and patience, you’ll end up with a healthy batch of compost that can be used in your garden to help plants grow stronger and healthier!

Choosing The Right Container For Your Compost

When it comes to composting, choosing the right container is crucial. You want something that can hold all your organic waste, allow for proper aeration and drainage, and fit in with your garden aesthetic.

Here are some tips on selecting the perfect composting container:

– Look for a container made of durable materials such as wood, metal, or plastic. Avoid containers made of cheap materials like thin plastic or paper.
– Consider the size of your compost pile and choose a container that can accommodate it. If you have a large garden with plenty of waste to compost, opt for a bigger container.
– Make sure the container has adequate ventilation to allow air to circulate and prevent bad odors from developing.

If you’re feeling crafty, you can even make your own compost bin using materials like pallets or chicken wire. Keep in mind that DIY bins may require more maintenance than store-bought ones.

Once you’ve chosen your composting container, it’s time to start filling it up with organic matter. Remember to layer your browns (dry leaves, paper) and greens (fruit scraps, grass clippings) for optimal decomposition.

With patience and care, soon enough you’ll have rich soil amendment ready for your garden.

As you embark on this journey towards sustainable gardening practices, always remember that every small step counts towards making a positive impact on our planet. Happy composting!

The Dos Of Composting: What To Include In Your Pile

Composting is a simple and effective way to reduce waste and nourish your garden. To ensure that your compost pile thrives, there are certain materials that you should include.

The first thing to add to your compost pile is organic matter. This includes fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, tea bags, and yard waste such as leaves and grass clippings.

In addition to organic matter, you’ll want to add some brown material. Brown materials include things like dried leaves, straw, sawdust, and shredded paper. These items will help balance the nitrogen-rich organic matter in your compost pile. It’s important to note that you don’t want too much brown material in your compost pile either – aim for a ratio of about 3 parts brown to 1 part green.

Finally, it’s important to add air and water to your compost pile. Without these elements, your pile won’t decompose properly. To ensure good airflow, use a pitchfork or other tool to turn the pile regularly. You can also use a compost aerator or simply poke holes in the pile with a broom handle.

As for water, make sure the pile stays moist but not soaking wet – aim for the consistency of a damp sponge.

Remember these tips when adding materials to your compost pile: include plenty of organic matter and some brown material for balance; regularly turn the pile for good airflow; keep it moist but not soaking wet.

With these guidelines in mind, you’ll be well on your way to creating nutrient-rich soil that will benefit both your garden and the planet!

The Donts Of Composting: What To Avoid

Did you know that approximately 30% of the waste generated in the US is organic matter that could be composted? With such a significant amount of potential compost material, it’s crucial to understand what not to include in your compost pile.

First and foremost, avoid adding meat, bones, dairy products, and oily or greasy foods. These items take longer to break down and can attract rodents and other pests. Additionally, they can create unpleasant odors and increase the risk of disease-causing bacteria in your compost.

Another item to avoid is pet waste. While it may seem like a natural addition to your compost pile, pet waste can contain harmful pathogens that may not be fully broken down during the composting process. These pathogens can survive even when the temperature reaches 140°F (60°C), which is why it’s best to dispose of pet waste separately.

Lastly, steer clear of adding weeds with mature seeds or plants treated with pesticides or herbicides. Weeds can sprout through your finished compost, while pesticides or herbicides can harm beneficial microorganisms essential for breaking down organic matter.

By avoiding these don’ts of composting, you’ll ensure a healthy and successful composting experience without any setbacks or issues down the road.

Troubleshooting Common Composting Problems

Composting is an amazing process that turns food scraps and yard waste into nutrient-rich soil. However, it’s not always a smooth ride. Sometimes, things can go wrong and your compost pile might start to smell bad or attract pests. But don’t worry! Here are some common composting problems and how to fix them.

Firstly, if your compost is giving off a foul odor, it might be too wet or not getting enough air. You can add dry materials like leaves or shredded newspaper to absorb the excess moisture and mix the pile to aerate it.

If the smell persists, you might need to add some carbon-rich materials like straw or wood chips to balance out the nitrogen-rich food scraps.

Secondly, if you see maggots or flies in your compost, it means that there’s too much moisture and not enough air circulation. To solve this problem, add more brown materials like dried leaves and twigs to absorb the excess moisture and turn the pile regularly to aerate it.

You can also cover your compost with a breathable material like burlap to keep flies away.

Thirdly, if you notice that your compost is taking forever to break down, it might be because of the lack of nitrogen-rich food scraps or water. Make sure you’re adding enough green materials like vegetable peels and grass clippings as well as watering your pile regularly.

You can also consider adding some finished compost or manure to speed up the decomposition process.


As an eclectic master gardener, I can attest to the benefits of composting. Not only does it reduce waste and save money on fertilizers, but it also enriches soil and promotes healthy plant growth.

It’s important to understand the basics of composting and choose the right container for your needs.

Remember the dos of composting: include organic materials such as fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, and eggshells. Also, maintain a balance between brown (carbon-rich) and green (nitrogen-rich) materials. Avoid adding meat or dairy products, pet waste, or diseased plants to your pile.

Troubleshoot common problems like odor or pests by adjusting your ratios or turning your pile more frequently. As they say, one person’s trash is another’s treasure—turn your food scraps into nutrient-rich gold!