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A Beginner's Guide to Composting

Composting is much easier than you think. This simple beginners' guide will teach you everything you need to know to get started on your composting journey.

A Beginner's Guide to Composting
It might sound intimidating, but making your own compost is actually really simple and pretty low effort. It's a great way to cut down on waste, grow great plants, and make your gardening even more cost-effective.

What equipment do I need to start composting?

Composting can be as straightforward or as complicated as you would like it to be. In its simplest form, all that you need is:

  • Indoors: A container of some sort to gather your compostable waste in. Preferably with a lid.
  • Outdoors: A spot to do your composting. You'll want to choose somewhere that gets a little sun if possible.

Simply gather your compostable materials from the kitchen or garden and throw them onto a pile. Most people choose to keep the pile contained using some sort of structure, but even that is not strictly necessary. You can get some really great systems to help make the whole process easier and cleaner. Composting bins are widely available and help keep the process clean and manageable, especially in smaller spaces.

What else do I need to do?

Once your compost is in a pile, you'll need to turn it regularly (once every week or two). Turning the compost helps aerate it which speeds up the composting process. You'll also want to wet it every now and again. The idea is to keep the compost moist. You don't want it to be soaking wet, but you also don't want it to dry out. If you forget to turn or wet it, no worries! Compost is extremely forgiving, it might take a little longer to be ready, but you can't break it.

How long does it take to make compost?

It usually takes anywhere from 3 to 24 months for your compost to be ready. When it's ready, it'll have a rich brown color, smell like earth, and crumble in your hand. Making compost can be quite a science. There are loads of books on the topic! If you're really dedicated to the process, you'll probably get your compost quicker. If you neglect it a little, it'll take longer, but you'll still get homemade compost in the end.

Help! My compost is a slimy mess!

The most common problem people have with compost is that it becomes slimy and smelly. If your compost is slimy, it simply means that you need to add more brown material. Green materials (like grass cuttings and vegetable scraps) need brown materials to turn into compost without getting messy. Dried leaves, hay, and cardboard are all great brown materials to add to your compost.

What can I add to my compost?

Only organic matter should be added to your compost. Most kitchen scraps and garden waste is fine. Dog and cat feces should not be added, but there are other types of manure that are fine to add. This extensive list will help you figure out what can and can't go into your compost and give you advice on how to compost items that need some preparation.

Give me more garden ideas

Gardening is a fun and rewarding activity. It adds joy to life and can help you cut down on waste and on your spending. Save has some great ideas to help you get started and make the most of your freshly grown produce. Check out this introduction to canning or these great tips to help get your veggie garden ready.

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