Asked by: Abdelfettah Porras
home and garden landscaping

How do you start a compost pit?

Last Updated: 18th January, 2020

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How to Compost
  1. Start your compost pile on bare earth.
  2. Lay twigs or straw first, a few inches deep.
  3. Add compost materials in layers, alternating moist and dry.
  4. Add manure, green manure (clover, buckwheat, wheatgrass, grass clippings) or any nitrogen source.
  5. Keep compost moist.

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In this regard, how do I start a small compost bin?

Here's how in four easy steps:

  1. Buy a Container. Purchase a large plastic or ceramic container.
  2. Pile the Components. Before you can toss scrapped food in your compost, you'll need to prep the bin.
  3. Toss in Scraps. Now that you have a pile of paper, soil and worms, you can start throwing in your scraps.
  4. Repeat.

Also Know, how do you make compost? To build a compost pile, start by putting down a layer of carbon, which includes materials like leaves, straw, corn stalks, and small twigs. Then, add a layer of nitrogen on top of that, which can be things like manure, vegetable waste, grass clippings, and garden debris. Finally, add a layer of topsoil.

Similarly, you may ask, how do I start compost in my backyard?

Begin by building your compost bin on well-drained soil. I laid a layer of flagstone and gravel in my bin, to aid with drainage. Fill your backyard compost bin with a 6-inch layer of “brown” matter and a 2- to 3-inch layer of “green” matter. Water until moist, but not soggy, similar to the feel of a damp sponge.

What should you not compost?

What NOT to Compost And Why

  • Meat, fish, egg or poultry scraps (odor problems and pests)
  • Dairy products (odor problems and pests)
  • Fats, grease, lard or oils (odor problems and pests)
  • Coal or charcoal ash (contains substances harmful to plants)
  • Diseased or insect-ridden plants (diseases or insects might spread)

Related Question Answers

Benaissa Nigmann

Professional

Do I need worms to compost?

You do not need to add worms to your compost pile. Outside, composting happens with and without the help of earthworms. Worms will usually find their own way to a compost pile.

Prakash Tolksdorf

Professional

Does a compost bin need a bottom?

Does a Compost Bin Need a Bottom? If you're building your compost bin from scratch, you don't usually need to add a bottom to it. Having composting materials sit directly on soil allows microorganisms, worms and insects — creatures that facilitate the composting process — to move from soil into compost.

Meryeme Quintaneiro

Professional

Do you need soil to start a compost bin?

Leaves and grass clippings are also excellent for compost but should be sprinkled into the bin with other materials, or dug in to the center of the pile and mixed. Adding garden soil to your compost will help to mask any odors, and microorganisms in the soil will accelerate the composting process.

Aime Awetyan

Explainer

Does a compost bin need a lid?

It is not essential for a compost heap to have a lid. However, a lid does help to regulate both the temperature and the moisture levels. You could easily use a piece of old carpet (preferably Hessian backed rather than foam backed) or a thick piece of plastic tarpaulin weighed down with stones.

Mounira Namora

Explainer

Do compost bins smell?

A properly balanced compost pile should not smell bad. Compost should smell like dirt and if it does not, there is something wrong and your compost pile is not properly heating up and breaking down the organic material. There is one exception to this rule and that is if you are composting manure in your compost pile.

Firas Anglarill

Explainer

How often should you turn compost?

How often you should turn compost depends on a number of factors including size of the pile, green to brown ratio and amount of moisture in the pile. That being said, a good rule of thumb is to turn a compost tumbler every three to four days and the compost pile every three to seven days.

Guglielmo Esquinas

Pundit

What can I use for compost if I don't have a garden?

But don't throw your kitchen scraps out just yet: here are seven ways to use your compost to help the planet.
  1. Use a Curbside Compost Service.
  2. Add It to Your Potted Plants.
  3. Make Friends with Your Gardening Neighbors.
  4. Donate Your Compost to a School or Community Garden.
  5. See if a Local Farm Can Use It.

Krasimir Hazpurua

Pundit

How long does it take to start a compost pile?

Depending on the size of your compost pile, what you put in it, and how you tend to it, this process can take three months to two years. With a Compost Aerator, it's easier to add air to the pile. Aeration gives oxygen-hungry microbes what they need to break down materials faster.

Mahjouba Solbas

Pundit

What is the best method of composting?

What is the best compost method for you?
  • Community Compost. More and more municipalities offer green waste pickup.
  • Bokashi. A bokashi bucket is not technically* composting, but it is a good way to recycle your food waste in small spaces indoors.
  • Worm Bin.
  • Green Cone.
  • Black Soldier Flies.
  • Heap.
  • Sheet Mulch.
  • Trench or Pit.

Joannie Sason

Pundit

What materials do you need to start composting?

What products to compost
  • Carbon Rich Material "Browns" Cardboard (free of dyes) Corn stalks. Fruit waste. Leaves. Newspaper. Peat Moss.
  • Nitrogen Rich Material "Greens" Alfalfa/Clover/Hay. Algae. Coffee grounds. Kitchen food waste. Garden waste.
  • ?Things to Avoid. Meats. Bones. Fats/oils/grease. ?Diseased plant material. Colored paper.

Hadia Pey

Pundit

How much moisture does a compost need?

Right Amount
Compost piles should be about 40 to 60 percent water, advises University of Illinois Extension. The easiest way to test the moisture content of the pile is to put on a pair of gloves and pick up a handful of compost and squeeze it. If water gushes out, it's too wet.

Erzsebet Sewering

Teacher

Can you compost in the winter?

Compost all winter. Even though your compost might freeze solid and decomposition come to a complete stop, there is no need to stop composting. In fact, the freeze-thaw cycles will help to break down the materials that you are adding, so they will decompose even faster when the spring arrives.

Seba Eleazar

Teacher

What is the best backyard composter?

Here are our choices for the best compost bins:
  • Best composter overall: FCMP Outdoor IM4000 37 Tumbling Composter.
  • Best rolling compost bin: Envirocycle Tumbler Bin.
  • Best kitchen composter: SCD Probiotics All Season Indoor Composter Kit.
  • Best compost scrap container: Epica Stainless Steel Compost Bin.

Alexi Haubruck

Teacher

What is the best location for a compost bin?

Compost directly on the ground (not on concrete or other hardscape surfaces) to promote good contact with soil microorganisms, aeration, and drainage. Regardless of where you live, site your compost area in the shade if at all possible. Shade keeps the organic matter from drying out rapidly.

Giedrius Arruabarrena

Teacher

What foods are best for composting?

Fruits, vegetables, dairy products, grains, bread, unbleached paper napkins, coffee filters, eggshells, meats and newspaper can be composted. If it can be eaten or grown in a field or garden, it can be composted.

Xiaoe Ferraces

Reviewer

Is bread brown or green compost?

Yes, stale or moldy bread can be used in compost piles. Bread would be considered a green compost matter (source of nitrogen). Some types of bread may also act as brown compost matter (source of carbon). Bread can attract pests and rodents so make sure the bread is well mixed into the compost pile.

Deirdre Puentes

Reviewer

Is it OK to put onions in compost?

Yes, you can compost onions – but with a few considerations. Like potatoes though, whole onions have a tendency to regrow – they'll probably sprout new shoots and try to grow new onions before they rot down. If you want to avoid that, chop up the onion into halves or quarters before you put it in the compost bin.

Maeve Lopez Roso

Reviewer

Can I put banana peels in my compost?

Composting banana peels is as easy as simply tossing your leftover banana peels into the compost. You can toss them in whole, but be aware that they may take longer to compost this way. While, yes, you can use banana peels as fertilizer and it will not harm your plant, it is best to compost them first.

Exiquia Corchon

Reviewer

Can I put eggshells in my compost?

The answer to this is yes, you can. Adding eggshells to compost will help add calcium to the make up of your final compost. This important nutrient helps plants build cell walls. While you don't need to crush eggshells before composting them, doing so will speed up how fast the eggshells break down in the compost.