How To Compost (5 Easy Steps)

It may sound silly, but I've been thinking a lot of about composting lately, given that we've been having so much fun planting and bringing our little backyard back to life. Since today is Learn About Composting Day (I know this thanks to Kris-Ann), I wanted to share how crazy easy it is to compost. Totally doable and good for the environment. Here's the how-to in 5 easy steps:

1. Get an indoor compost receptacle. This is actually an optional step but a handy one; an indoor compost receptacle allows you to collect kitchen scraps to reduce trips to your outdoor composter. We just use a large plastic bowl with a lid but I'm thinking of replacing that eyesore with this stainless steel Epica composter.

2. Get an outdoor composter. Composters range from simple to fancier (we have one simple and one fancier); here are three good options to consider:

  • We bought our "simple" composter at our town DPW for around $30 I think. It's basically a cylinder with a cone inside (to allow for airflow) and a cone lid with a rope handle. If your DPW doesn't sell composters the Geobin Composter is an inexpensive option at $30. The only thing I'm wondering about is a lid, to keep animals out.

  • Our "fancy" composter (the EnviroCycle Composter) is out of stock but the Good Ideas EnviroTumbler is very similar. It's a little pricier (currently on sale at Amazon for $116, down from $160) but is so due to handy features. The composter rolls off the base so you can roll it to where you need it in the garden + the base collects the compost "tea," which we pour over our plants that need extra love.

  • For a model a bit more in the middle, the Forest City Tumbling Composter is a well-rated option at $99. This composter has two chambers (let one sit while you fill the other) and a good ventilation system.

3. Collect your kitchen scraps! In your indoor composter, collect green matter: fruit and veggie scraps, coffee grounds/filters, tea bags, and egg shells; the coffee grounds, tea bags, and egg shells offer excellent nutrients for compost. Do not include non-plant matter (e.g., meat, beans), which will attract animals.

4. Mix it up. Dump your kitchen compost into your outdoor compost and add some brown matter to it (e.g., dead leaves). And when you're watering your plants, water the compost. Ideally you want a mix of brown and green matter and also water; the brown matter provides carbon, the green nitrogen, and the water moistens the mix to facilitate breakdown.

5. Turn and use. If you have one composter, you'll need to dig up the "black gold" from the bottom. This is one reason I like the rotating composter. However, later on we found we needed/wanted a second composter so what we do is fill one composter through the year and let the other decompose and then switch the next year. We either use compost for new plantings (dig a hole and line it with compost) or it's been great to spread compost + compost tea on existing plants as they've been coming back to life after the long winter.

For more information, you can check out the EPA’s guide to composting, but really, these 5 easy steps have carried us through many years of urban composting. If you have questions, let me know in the comments!

Image credits: Amazon