How Create Your Own Organic Soil: Compost Basics

Composting is a great way to reduce the amount of trash being carted out in bags, create rich healthy organic soil for your garden and reduce some carbon footprint. Whether you have acres and acres or a postage stamp sized yard you can compost. Composting is super easy to do and can even be done in a small apartment space. All you need to get started is a small container in your kitchen to store scraps and a large container of some sort outside to contain scraps, yard waste, etc.

How Create Your Own Organic Soil: Compost Basics

Countertop Compost Jar

I have a plain white ceramic jar sitting on my counter now but Vintage Compost Bin is on my want list. Isn’t it beautiful? Not only am I saving the planet but I can beautify my kitchen at the same time. Win win!

Most counter top compost jars include a carbon filter that cuts down on odor well. You can use a plain old plastic bowl on the counter to collect food scraps if you are planning on taking it out everyday, or even a couple times a day but I would not recommend it, it will attract gnats and fruit flies pretty quickly. A large plastic container with a lid will work if you don’t want to invest in a pricier holder as well.

Compost Bin

Do some research and see which one is best for you. There are many types, some as simple as a 3 sided structure built from pallets, or stationary black boxes, as well as barrels on a frame that you can turn to mix your compost. They should all have openings that allow air to move throughout your compost, and top that opens so you can add to and mix it up. You can even purchase a worm composter, these wiggling creatures will help break down waste even faster. Place your compost pile in a sunny spot.

A really successful compost pile will have equal amounts of brown, and green materials layered somewhat evenly, as well as oxygen and moisture. But even if your compost is not perfectly alternated have no fear, it will still break down and produce soil, it will just take longer.

  • Brown – Carbon producing items like dead leaves and newspaper
  • Green – Nitrogen produces like kitchen waste and fresh grass clippings

What SHOULD be added to your compost bin:

  • Household Scraps – Fruit and veggie peels and scraps, loose tea or tea bags, coffee grounds, bread/toast,
    eggshells, dryer lint, newspaper, hair, – do not include animal waste like- bones, meat, dairy, or fats.
  • Yard Waste – Straw, hay, grass and weed clippings. Do not included diseased plants, artificial fertilizers, bug sprays, etc. Grain fed animal waste- Horse or chicken is ideal. Avoid dog and cat waste as well as charcoal or ashes from the grill. Very small twigs are ok as well as untreated sawdust.
  • Soil – Scatter hand fulls of good, organic soil between layers to encourage the growth of good bacteria.
  • Oxygen – The microorganisms that work to break down the waste need plenty of oxygen to work, the less they have the longer your pile will take to break down. This is why compost containers have holes all around and you need to turn soil often. If you don’t have a barrel composter with a crank you will need to turn your compost pile using a shovel or compost aerator about once a week. Turning or tumbling your compost to aerate will break it down faster by providing oxygen and moisture to even the deepest parts of the pile ensuring even decomposition. This will also help reduce odors from rotting food.
  • Water – Compost should always be just damp, soaking wet will drown microorganisms and too dry will make for a dry and brittle pile instead of rich dark soil.

If you are on track with your compost pile it should be moist, dark, have very little odor, and it will produce heat- This is the chemical process breaking down items and is necessary. If your pile is not warm or hot you will need to add more nitrogen items to the pile, and aerate well.

About the author
Mrs. Hatland is a 30-something married, mom of 7 and the face behind the popular online publication, Motherhood Defined. Known as the Iowa Mom blogger by her local peers and “The Fairy Blogmother” worldwide. She has professional experience in working closely with clients on brand ambassadorships, client outreach services, content creation and creative social media advertising exposure.
%d bloggers like this: