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Simple Compost at Home for Beginners
You have either never used it before, bought it in bags or you hear the word and can instantly smell earthy, rich goodness along with remembering the feeling of satisfaction knowing it came from your own property. This article is all about how to make simple compost at home for beginners.
Compost brings new life and richness to everything it touches. It is one of the basics of gardening and homesteading. It facilitates a rotating system in your yard where you can recycle green and browns, your nitrogens and carbons. These combined with time and some moisture will eventually create dark, rich goodness to feed your plants the nutrients they want and need. All of this can be done year round, creating an ecosystem of diversity right in your own yard, back patio garden or homestead.
What if I told you at the same time that it was simple and stress free? Compost is not meant to be difficult.
If you are new to gardening, also learn more about different gardening methods to figure out what would work best for your set up and lifestyle. Also read about seed starting for beginners and how to use egg cartons for starting seeds.
What Does Compost Provide to My Garden?
- Retain Moisture in Soil
- Lower Your Carbon Footprint by Lowering Methane Emissions
- Minimize Plant Diseases
- Eliminate the Need for Chemical Fertilizers
Can I Compost Indoors?
Yes, you absolutely can. Using a variety of containers available today, composting indoors is more accessible than ever. The same recommendations we share in this post would also apply to composting indoors in a smaller container.
See the photo links below as examples. If that’s something that you’re interested in, you’ll have to decide which would work best for you.
So, What Do I Add to My Simple Compost?
Three words. Greens, Browns, Water.
See some examples below:
- Grass Clippings
- Fruit or Vegetable Waste
- Coffee Grounds, Tea Bags
- Egg Shells
- Hair and fur
- Fireplace ashes
- Dead Leaves
- Small, broken up branches or twigs
- Cardboard, Paper, Newspaper
- Hay, Straw
- Sawdust, wood chips
- Add just enough water to moisten the pile, but do not soak it. General rule of thumb is that if the compost pile starts to smell or feel slimy you’re adding too much water.
“All you’re doing is creating the right environment and speeding up the process so nature can give you more than it would otherwise.”
5 Steps to Simple Compost at Home For Beginners
Listen, many sources will tell you that you have to have a certain amount of carbon or nitrogen… that you have to mix it every week… or have a certain composting container etc. Forget all of that. As long as you use common sense, pay attention to your pile and have a good balance of carbons and nitrogens, you will be fine. Diversity of ingredients will bring you the best success.
This is a natural process that happens every day on its own. All you’re doing is creating the right environment and speeding up the process so nature can give you more than it would otherwise.
- Designate a spot in your yard for compost. It needs to be resting on the dirt. Measure a space at a minimum 3’x3′. If you’re using a container then find a spot for it in the yard.
- You can add wood, blocks, pallets etc. to the sides if you want to keep it contained or raise the pile up higher (higher usually means faster process). Keep in mind though that you will need to be able to get to your pile to turn it.
- Start layering! Green, brown, green, brown, add water as necessary (just enough for it to be moist, not dripping wet).
4. Turn as often as you would like. That means using a shovel or pitch fork to mix up the whole pile. Try to pile it up as vertical as possible. There is also a crank compost aerator that is very useful if you want to save your back.
5. Once your compost is that dark, rich color with an earthy smell and you no longer have large pieces of leaves and garden waste etc. then you’re ready to add to your plants.
What Kinds of Options Are There For A Container or Permanent Structure?
There are hundreds of options for a DIY compost bin or area. A quick look online will have you watching and reading for hours.
There are also many pre-made options you can purchase. My only recommendation would be to avoid plastic containers unless they’re specifically made for composting. Plastic will leech chemicals into your compost and thus into your food.
I’ll share some photo links below and you can decide what would work best for your needs, amount of waste produced and how much space you have to work with.
How Long Does Composting Take?
If you watch and maintain your compost pile religiously you can have beautiful, earthy compost within 3 months. For me, I usually have a finished pile within 6 months and my preference is to have two or three piles going at the same time so that you can have a rotating supply year round. I am okay with it taking time and not taking me away from other priorities because we have multiple piles on our property.
Have fun with it: have the kids help, let the chickens go at it if you want. Some people swear by using a thermometer to optimize the process but again, we’ve never done that and have had great success. In the winter months sometimes you can see the steam coming off the compost, as it heats up and breaks down. Once you’ve done this a couple times compost will just happen naturally on your homestead and you won’t even give it a second thought. Hope you enjoyed this guide of simple compost at home for beginners.
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Best of luck to you. Composting is simple and stress free! It is a very easy thing to master, a foundational step along the path to your very own homestead or garden. It can be difficult to get started, but once you do, you just might find your passion and not be able to stop. You’ve just learned how to make gardeners gold after all…
Wishing you all the best on your self reliance journey,
Herbs, Birds & the Bees
Garden, Chickens, Bees & Homestead