Now that you have decided that you want to compost, there is a list of items that you will
need to get started. Most of these items are available in your own yard and require a
small amount of planning ahead of time.
After you pick a location for your compost bin or pile (ensure it is in an easily accessible
location) you are going to need approximately four inches of leaves as a base. If you are
able to chip the leaves prior it will make things progress and breakdown faster but it is
not a requirement. The quantity of leaves you will need to make a four-inch base will
vary depending on the size of the bin you have chosen.
Your next layer should be about one inch of high-quality soil. If you cannot find this in
your own garden a small bag purchased from your local nursery will work fine.
Then start layering the food for the microbes to eat. There are two categories of food you
are going to need brown (yard waste) and green (food scraps or other organic waste). A
common ratio is two parts brown for every part of green.
You are going to need a spade or heavy-duty pitch fork to turn or rotate the compost at
least once per week. If there is a dry-spell you will need a means of adding water (a
hose) to keep the pile moist.
With such simple materials and start-up instructions, anyone can start their own compost
pile in under a day. If you choose to not use a bin, consider buying some wire mesh to
contain the pile, it can be wrapped around the base of the pile in a circular shape. The
compost can be ready anywhere from two months up to one year.
The most common location for a compost pile or bin is in close proximity to your kitchen
or garden. You want it in a convenient location to make it easy and second nature to
bring your food scraps or garden waste to the composter. If you have a large yard, the
yard waste can get quite heavy and you don’t want to be transporting the heavy material
be a deterrent to composting.
There are other considerations that need to be taken into account when choosing a
composting site. Keeping all the below suggestions in mind, you also want to make sure
that it is in an area that children or animals will not disturb or get into the compost bin.
The ground should be level and not prone to collecting excessive water (it needs good
drainage). Your compost pile needs to stay moist but you do not want too much water or
it will not work properly. In addition to level ground, make sure you can easily access
the area with a wheelbarrow.
A shady location is best, if the compost pile gets too much sunlight it will get hot and dry
out. Again, the pile needs to stay moist and overheating it with external sources will not
A water source should be close by – you can reach the area with your garden hose or
easily carry enough water to moisten the pile if it becomes too dry. Remember you just
want to moisten the pile with a spray of water not drench it.
If you are beginning with a one bin system, you may want to leave enough room for a
second bin down the road. By having two bins side-by-side, you can easily rotate or turn
the pile by moving material from one bin to the next.