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How to Start a Compost Pile at Home

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How to Make Compost at Home

Healthy compost is made up of organic materials (kitchen and yard scraps from plants) and other suitable items that are left to decompose [1]. Afterward, you can use it to fertilize the soil.

There are many benefits to composting. For the most part, it adds nutrients to the soil and increases soil moisture. It’s a natural way to help your crops grow.

Read on to learn how to compost at home.

Decide Why You Want One

You can use compost on your lawns, around fruit trees, as mulch, and even to feed potted plants. If you need compost for all of these, you’re probably going to need two or more compost bins or enough space to make more than one pile.

Therefore, ensure that you have enough space to house your compost piles or bins. If you have a yard, that’s good.

Moreover, if you have enough space for an outside garden where you will use your organic compost, even better.

Compost Pile vs. Bin

Which is better? Your garden size and the amount of space you have available will determine which option is best for you.

For those who have larger gardens and more space, compost piles work better. Conversely, a compost bin is better for those who have smaller gardens or less space.

Acquire a bin or a tumbler in which to place your plant scraps. You can make your own or buy one that is pre-assembled.

Alternatively, you can have a compost pile out in the back corner of your yard. This is fine if you have a big yard, but beware that it may attract nuisance wildlife.

Things to Put in Your Compost

Kitchen and yard scraps from plants are the main organic materials to put in your compost pile. But, you can also put in other items.

Below is a list of things you can add to your compost.

  • Wood shavings
  • Paper bags (shredded)
  • Grass clippings
  • Dried leaves
  • Human hair
  • Eggshells
  • Pine needles and cones
  • Corn cobs
  • Vegetable scraps
  • Coffee grounds
  • Newspaper (shredded)
  • Cardboard
  • Organic animal manure
  • Twigs
  • Sawdust

Can you compost bread? Absolutely! It breaks down easily and will add nitrogen to your compost. However, it may attract more insects than usual.

What Not to Put in Compost

There are certain waste materials and scraps that are not suitable for your home compost. These include:

  • Dairy products. You can compost dairy products, but it’s best to avoid doing so. They may cause an odor and attract unwanted insects.
  • Human feces are considered unsafe for compost that will be used around edible plants. Harmful bacteria and pathogens may be lurking in them [2].
  • Sawdust from pressure-treated woods. Pressure-treated wood is great for the deck but not good for the food you are going to eat. It could leach arsenic into the soil.

The Composting Process

Though there are different composting methods, a simple homemade compost heap is set up in layers.

  • The bottom should comprise coarse materials. Add some twigs, corn cobs, broken branches, etc.
  • Now comes 4 inches of green material. This includes vegetable and fruit scraps, grass clippings, manure, and coffee grounds.
  • Next, sprinkle 2 inches of soil on top.
  • Atop that, add a layer of carbon-rich “brown” materials. This includes newspaper, dry leaves, straw or hay, wood chips, sawdust, etc.
  • Afterward, add water to keep it moist and speed up the composting process. However, do not make your compost too wet. It should not be too dry, either.
  • From now on, you’ll keep adding in this order: green materials, soil, brown materials, water, and repeat.
  • Place the bin or composter in a location where it is warm and receives at least four hours of sun per day.

The finished product should look and smell like rich, dark soil.

After all the time and effort you have invested in creating your compost, be sure you enjoy the benefits of it. Not only will your plants benefit from this homemade plant food, but you will be saving money as well.

Making Compost Tea

Making compost tea is very easy. For the recipe, you only need two ingredients: water and some of your finished compost.

Get a 5-gallon bucket and put in one shovel full of your finished compost. Next, add rain or non-chlorinated water to the bucket, filling it up.

Stir the mixture well and allow it to sit for about a week. During that time, stir it once per day, every day. After a week, your compost tea will be ready.

When ready to use, strain it and use it as is. However, if you will be using it as a foliar spray, dilute some with equal parts water and spray on plant leaves.

There are many benefits to this liquid compost tea. The biggest benefit is that it improves soil health. It also improves soil structure and helps suppress foliar diseases when sprayed on the leaves.


Creating a DIY compost bin is a smart way to reuse kitchen and yard plant scraps. Backyard composting can greatly benefit your vegetable garden, flowers, houseplants, or even the lawn.

It will also save you a trip to the local plant store to buy bags of someone else’s compost.

Sasha Brown

Sasha Brown is a blogger and lover of all things natural.

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