by Texas Homesteader ~
How do you make compost? What can be composted and what cannot? What kind of container do you use?
There are lots of different answers and methods to those questions. I’m sharing easy composting tips below.
(Note: Some links in this post will take you to other related articles for further information. But links preceded with * are affiliate links. If you click and buy something I could receive a tiny commission.)
Is Compost The Same As Fertilizer?
Well, yes and no. Compost does include vital garden nutrients including nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. But not enough to meet the needs of your veggie plants.
Think of compost more as a soil amendment than a fertilizer. Compost improves your soil for a healthy garden:
Increase Soil’s Ability To Absorb Nutrients
Improves Soil Texture
Loosen Soil To Repair Soil Compaction
Feed Earthworms & Other Beneficial Organisms
- Results In Active Healthy Microorganisms In Soil
Improve Drainage of Clay Soils
Improve Water Absorption Rate of Sandy Soils
Healthy soil dramatically improves the health of your garden plants.
But although compost is often referred to as ‘Black Gold’ in the garden, you’ll still need to add appropriate applications of fertilizer in your garden for the best harvest results.
No Need To Buy Compost – It’s EASY To Make Yourself!
No need to flock to the store to buy big plastic bags of compost. It’s beyond easy to make yourself.
Food scraps go into your compost pile (and then ultimately to increase your garden harvest) instead of just rotting a landfill.
It’s eco friendly, simple to do, good for your garden and saves you money too!
What Containers Do I Use To Compost?
All organic matter will eventually decompose. And in that decomposition will result in rich healthy soil full of beneficial bacteria.
There are many containment options for making compost:
- Open-Ended Wire ‘Barrel’
- Cement Block Frame
- Compost Area Framed With Logs
- Wood Pallet Framed Compost Area
- 3-Sided Hay Bale
- Stationary Compost Container
- Compost Tumbler
I have a * compost tumbler that I purchased a few years back and I love it.
In past years I’d just used an open-ended barrel shaped from chicken wire. While it was effective in accumulating my composting materials, it was difficult for me to turn the compost properly.
Because I didn’t turn it as often as I should the compost was too slow in completing the composting process to suit me. (although it was obviously my lack of action that was the problem.)
Why Do You Need To Stir Compost?
The turning of the compost is very important in the composting process. The pile needs to be turned often to properly redistribute the compost materials & moisture as well as add oxygen.
So these days when my scraps go into the tumbler I give it a quick turn and walk away. Easy!
What Can You Add To Your Compost Pile?
You may wonder what can go in the compost pile?
Your compost needs both “greens” and carbons, or “browns” to work properly.
Compost Greens (Nitrogen Rich, Compost Quickly):
- grass clippings
- carrot tops
- apple cores
- banana peels
- egg shells
- coffee grounds
Compost Browns (Carbon Rich, Feed Soil-Dwelling Microbes):
- black & white newspaper
- toilet paper rolls
- used tissue or paper napkins
- waded black & white paper
- dry leaves
- coffee filters
This is only a quick list of examples but there are LOTS of things around the house that can be composted.
Composting Tip: The smaller the pieces you place in the compost, the quicker it will decompose. So chop the larger pieces up if you can.
What To Avoid In Your Compost Pile:
There are a few things you don’t want to add to your compost:
- Meats / bones (attracts vermin)
- Waxy paper (slow to decompose)
- Dog or Cat Feces (can include toxic parasites)
- Weeds with seeds
- Grease or fats
Proper Mix of Greens & Browns For Compost
The generally-accepted percentage is to add three parts brown matter to one part green matter. But it doesn’t have to be exact.
- Too Many Greens: If you have too many greens your compost may begin to smell. Simple fix – add some browns.
- Too Wet: Also if your compost is too wet it may also begin to smell. You want it only lightly damp like a wrung-out sponge.
- Too Many Browns: If you have too many browns your compost will slow down its composting progress. Again, simple fix – add greens and/or water.
Don’t forget to turn it often to keep it all properly mixed and to add that important oxygen.
Does Compost Stink?
Some people might be concerned there could be a bad smell to compost. I mean, it makes sense, right? You’re rotting things after all.
But no worries, properly balanced compost will not smell bad at all. Actually it will smell like deep rich healthy soil.
For me almost anything goes for the browns. I’ve composted dry leaves, wadded up bank statements, non thermal paper receipts, torn up cardboard pizza boxes and toilet paper cores from the roll. I even add RancherMan’s hair when I give him a haircut.
I’ve read that most inks used now are soy-based so I don’t really fret too much about what kind of paper goes in the composter, although I shy away from heavily-colored and slick-textured papers and thermal-paper receipts “just because”.
Don’t forget to stir your compost often to distribute oxygen. And add enough water so it’s slightly moist.
How moist? Well most definitions refer to it as being similar to the moisture of a wrung-out sponge.
Rodents, Flies & Other Pests & Compost
What about rodents, flies and other pests being attracted to your compost pile?
Avoid adding any meat, grease, milk or fat products and that definitely should help avoid that issue.
But a properly maintained compost pile does not smell bad. And I’ve never had a rodent problem with any composting receptacle I’ve ever used.
But I guess depending on where you live and what you include in your compost your experience could be different.
If it’s a concern for you get an enclosed *compost tumbler. That’s what we use here where there’s all manner of wild critters roaming about. Composting has never been simpler.
Composting Is Just That Easy!
So what have we learned today?
Your compost needs a mixture of “greens” and “browns“, to be turned regularly and kept evenly moist.
No kidding folks, it really is as simple as that! So get out there and start your own compost pile – your garden will thank you many times over. Happy Composting!
Other Compost Articles
- Easy Composting Rules For A Healthy Garden
- Don’t Worry, Compost Doesn’t Stink
- Easily Adding Cardboard To Your Compost
- Using Manure In Your Compost
- Compostable Eating Utensils
- Compostable Toothbrush
My Favorite Garden Hacks
- Planting Seeds In A Milk-Jug Greenhouse
- Planting An Indoor Greenhouse
- Repurposed Cardboard Seed-Starting Pots
- Easy Homemade Seed Tape
- Easy Compost For A Healthy Garden
- How Leaves Benefit Your Garden
- Using Manure In Your Compost & Garden
- 3-Sister’s Garden – The Original Companion Planting
- Planting A Large Galvanized Trough
- Where I Found The BEST Raised Bed!
- Planting A Blueberry Bush In Rustic Galvanized Tub
- Stevia – Growing Your Own Sweetener!
- My Simple, Zero-Waste Herb Drying Setup
- The Lazy Gardener’s Plant List – Plant Once, Eat For Years!
- How To Tell When Watermelon Is Ripe
- Luffa A Surprising Zucchini Substitute!
- How To Grow The Best Tomatoes
- Keeping Potted Plants Watered
- Repurposing A Coffee Can For Deep-Soak Watering
- 3 Rainwater Collection Systems We Use
- Cheap (or FREE) Wood Mulch For The Garden
- Using Vining Plants For Living Mulch
- Tricking Birds AWAY From Your Strawberry Plants
- Propping Tender Seedlings
- Homestead Hack: Remember Where You Planted Seeds
- How I Use EcoBricks In The Garden
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