How To Start Composting: The Seven Basics

It is common knowledge that fertile soil develops the best plants and gardens. Unfortunately,
many cities do not have optimum dirt for planting, which means you either need to purchase it or makes it yourself. Composting is a natural way of developing highly fertile soil using compostable materials. While not everyone is readily familiar with the process, successful composting begins with seven fundamental steps.

1. Use a Natural Base

If you want to create successful compost, you need to start with a proper foundation. Use a layer of bare natural earth. You want this as a foundation because the natural surface will have worms and other organisms necessary to aerate and benefit your garden beds later. Too many people try to avoid the addition of these organisms, failing to see their necessity in the process.

2. Layer With Straw

Following the layer of natural soil, you will want to add a layer of twigs or straw. Do not be too stingy with this layer. You need the straw to be at a depth of at least two to three inches deep, not compressed. The height of the layer allows for adequate drainage, and it will help aerate the compost later.

3. Alternate Between Moist and Dry Layers

With the foundation layers laid, you can begin putting in moist and dry materials. You want to alternate between layers. Wet ingredients include items like seaweed, food scraps and tea bags. Dry materials include things like sawdust pellets, leaves, wood ashes and straw. However, if you use wood ashes, only add them in thin layers to avoid clumping.

4. Add Nitrogen Source or Green Manure

Manure and nitrogen sources help to speed the process along. Excellent sources of nitrogen
include fruit and vegetable scraps, tea leaves and other table scraps. Green manure is a mix of grass clippings, wheatgrass, clover and buckwheat. You can also use seaweed or kelp, leaves and other natural materials that are healthy nitrogen contributors.

5. Water

Just like you need to water a garden, compost needs hydration. However, you do not want to
soak the materials or cause it to be sodden. You can give it a little water routinely, or allow the rain to do its job. The important thing is to make sure it does not dry out; you want the compost to stay moist.

6. Cover

An essential part of composting is retaining the heat and moisture, which is why covering is vital to the process. You can use anything to cover the material, from wood to plastic or carpet scraps. Applying a cover can also prevent overwatering from heavy rains.

7. Aerate

Finally, you want to aerate your compost every few weeks. Use a pitchfork or shovel to turn the materials. Aerating allows oxygen to enter the soil, which is a requirement of the process. After your compost pile has a good foundation and start, whenever you add new materials, you can mix them in instead of placing more layers.

Composting is one of the best ways to create fertile gardenscapes, which has significant benefits in your life. If you enjoyed this post, consider reading more posts about life and retirement from the Wise Ol' Crow.

Edna L Mckenzie - September 6, 2020

Thank you for this valuable information. now I know how to create my own compost. makes me feel happy

Sheila Elizabeth Bentley - September 6, 2020

Hi, I was wondering if it’s ok to put rhubarb leaves and onions scraps in the compost?

Christie Cianci - September 7, 2020

Thank you for this post

Alphonse Benoit - September 7, 2020

Good for outdoor composting. Could you please give suggestions for composting outside in a barrel or drum the vegie scraps. Thank you

Lee - September 7, 2020

Thankyou for your advice, I compost both my mine and my daughters gardens with great results for our vegetables and soil. It’s something I’ve always done from growing up in a big family and was a very natural lifestyle. Like you say gardening is very therapeutic and it’s my passion now I’m happily retired.I still buy bags of good potting mix too for my pots and seedlings.😀

Marguerite - September 7, 2020

I have had my compost for over 20 years and I love it! Right now with all the rain it is a soggy mess but full of worms which I keep feeding. I guess I will uncover it for some sunshine tomorrow returning the cover later in the day. Fun project. Good for environment. No need to buy topsoil when gardening.

Margaret Jordan - September 7, 2020

Very informative

Susan - September 7, 2020

This has been so helpful!! Thank you. I have a large garden ans to buy compost is so expensive and this article came at the right time.

Audrey Beaumont - September 7, 2020

Thank you for this advice. My mother always put garden refuse and vegetable peel on her compost. I remember all this, but forgot she also used to aerate it.

Lesley Dunlop - September 7, 2020

I am looking forward to stopping working and start living! Tackling an old garden, very over grown, that came with the hose. We have cut it right back in order to see exactly what we’ve got. I’m sure you will be very helpful when the time comes!
Thank you! X

Louise - September 7, 2020

New to gardening

Nenuca - September 7, 2020

Thank you, this tip is very helpful. I just started composting and learning how to be gardener.

I guess I was not doing it correctly. I get a lot of veggies and fruit scraps when I juice so what I do is dig a hole in my backyard and bury the green manure, then I cover it with dirt and brown paper, then I cover it with plastic. Is this process okay, what should I change? Can I use twigs in place of straw? Appreciate your expert advice!

Rita - September 7, 2020

I liked this articale on composting I will try it soon

Mark Kellam - October 22, 2020

Just curious how to deal w/ rodents esp. rats. I used a poly composter & a rat ate through the top to gain access.

P Darius - October 26, 2020

I this to be very informative and interesting.

Mary Jane - November 5, 2020

We’ve had trouble with wild animals (bear, deer, cougars) breaking into our compost. Any suggestions? Thanks!

Mary Jane - November 5, 2020

Is it possible to compost if we’re only at out location 5 months of the year?


Thank you so much for the lessons in composting. I am thinking of starting my own garden and need all the help I can get to make it a success. I look forward to getting more information on maintaining and growing my fruits and vegetables.

Diane Hoffner - January 16, 2021

Thank you very much for this article, informative & will be putting this to use February 2021. Have moved to the country & will be starting vegetable garden!

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