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How to Make Compost for Your Garden

Learn how to make compost for your garden soil in this gardening guide for beginners. Grow beautiful produce at home by composting yard and kitchen waste.

Woman using a shovel to move compost from wheelbarrow to garden
© Depositphotos / Kryzhov

Building a compost pile is the first step in creating the material you need to keep your garden growing and producing. When you are able to provide garden beds and plants with a steady stream of good soil and decomposed plant material, you are ensuring that your plants will get the best from you.

Composted materials are the best source of food and nutrients for plants so by building your own pile you can always feed your plants.

If you want to begin composting, but are unsure of how to begin building the pile, use these steps to create a pile that will provide for and support all your garden beds.

Tips for Making the Best Compost at Home

1. Establish a Compost Site.

Establishing a composting site is the first and most important part of the process. You want to be sure that you can easily access your compost pile in order to add to it, easily maintain it and then be able to pull soil from it once the pile is ready.

Other factors you need to take into consideration include its proximity to your home, because of the smell, and whether or not this is going to be an open or closed compost pile.

2. Choose Your Basic Brown Material.

The main ingredient to a healthy compost pile is the dead, brown material that is added to it in large quantities. This dead material consists of garden debris that is dying, leaves, small twigs and kindling.

You can also include newspaper that has been shredded into the brown material mix because it essentially is dead plant material.

3. Add Nutrient Rich Green Material.

A big reason for building a compost pile is to be able to add nutrient rich soil to the garden beds you are establishing.

Grass clippings, living plants that you have trimmed or removed and compost friendly kitchen scraps are the base of this layer of material. Manure is also added to the mixture at this point, if you are interested in using it.

4. Top Up with Good Potting Soil.

To make good soil for your garden, you need to start the process with good soil. Add nutrient rich, potting soil to the compost pile because it will help jump start the decomposition of the pile.

Before you know it, everything coming out of the pile will look as good as the potting soil you added and you won’t be able to distinguish added from created.

5. Layer Your Materials in the Compost Pile.

Layering the compost pile is how everything mixes well enough to keep the decomposition process going. Doing so mixes the soil up with material that is still green and other material that is considered dead and brown.

Layer until all the material available to you has been added to the pile and, in the future, make sure you add materials in thirds so the pile is always balanced.

6. Create a Good Environment.

Now that you have the right materials, your compost pile will need to be kept moist, hot and be regularly churned. Try to contain the compost pile as much as possible, using a lid or other enclosure.

Add a cup of water to the compost bin every week to keep the pile wet, and then mix the pile with a pitchfork, or roll one of the tumbler style compost containers once every other day.

Before you know it, you’ll have the perfect compost to add to your garden. Give it a try this year and make it a family tradition.

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