Easy Composting Method – The best time to start is now!

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Every year I see people burning and bagging leaves, are you one of those people? If so check out this easy and basic process for composting that we have found to work very well.

We stopped giving away our free fertilizer a few years ago and we will never turn back. We now do not throw away any organic material from our yard or kitchen unless it is somehow toxic or gone really really bad. All of our leaves, sticks, sawdust, chicken manure, food scraps, cardboard, compostable paper products, and much more all end up being processed right back into our garden beds. Is there any other way? I can’t imagine going out to the store and buying fertilizers and compost that some company is selling back to the same people that left their yard waste at the curb, doesn’t that seem silly?

There are many resources out there on what you should compost and how much of each type of item to put in the pile or bin or whatever you have setup. I go with a simple and very general rule of thumb. We add about 75% carbon material (leafs, saw dust, cardboard, paper, wood chips, etc.). This is the base to any good compost and handily this also makes up the majority of most peoples yard waste (remember that giant pile of leaves you had to rack up last year?). The next ingredient is nitrogen materials (chicken manure, vegetables, plant materials, last years jack-o-lanterns, and all of our kitchen waste). Just to be clear you cannot add any leftovers or meat products to your compost, only things that at one time grew from the ground in some way.

Now that you have all those goodies mixed together the only thing left to do is to wait and turn it over as much as you can remember. I mix mine up about once per week. This allows air to get into the pile and for the bacteria to get to work doing their thing. Many people suggest watering the pile as well but up here in Michigan I would not do that unless it was a drought. I might pour a bucket of nitrogen rich aquaponics water on it if that was needed.

We have found the best way to get started and make sure that your lazy genes don’t take over is to keep a small container on the counter in your kitchen for scraps and one just outside your door to move them into every day or two. We use an old mixing bowl inside and an old trash can outside. Once per week or so I take the trash can back to the “pile” and dump it in and stir it up.

If things go well and the pile gets cooking you should be cooked down to useable soil in about 60 days or so depending on your weather. This soil has everything that your plants, flowers, vegetables, or anything else needs to grow. If you do this right you should not need to buy soil, compost, manure, or fertilizers for your garden.

I hope this encourages someone to get started and save some food scraps from ending up in a landfill for goodness sake!

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41 Responses

  1. Gerry Clough says:

    That's all great but most suburbanites don't have the room for this. Best we can do is a compost tumbler and maybe a static bin or 2
    And it takes so much longer…

  2. Green Snapper says:

    This is the thing to do, wish more would do !! But its work so i guess that's why they don't.. Thanks

  3. Augie Inciong says:

    What is your opinion on compost tumblers?

  4. Nhung Ha cuoc song vung nui o my says:

    Thanks for sharing

  5. Torontoians want FAITH GOLDY says:

    I see a gutter next to you . You should catch the rain water also

  6. Jane Heichel says:

    I used to compost but got discouraged and quit but now I'm getting back to it

  7. mmhillard81 says:

    Where'd you get that cool green bowl?

  8. Kelly Soo says:

    i am wondering if you do not have cover on the compost will possums come and eat or mice or rats? curious to find out. i live in Tasmania

  9. Huffster says:

    In regards to shredding your leaves, if you mow a lawn, you also have a leaf shredder. I spread my leaves out to help them dry and also get a finer end product. I set the mower height high and open the side discharge panel. Go over them once in a circular pattern discharging to the center which consolidates them. Now set your mower very low, add the bagging attachment and you'll end up with double shredded leaves. They will break down much faster.

  10. Ron Yerke says:

    You have too many egg shells? There are others that don't have enough. Maybe you can find one or two living near you.

  11. John S. says:

    I started collecting my grass clippings to add to mine it just seemed like a logical thing to do this year as we had a lot of wet weather and it kept getting bigger than I like between mowing and there was a lot of clippings just turning brown in the yard, there's not too many folks out there that don't have grass to mow either.

  12. Davis D says:

    new to gardening. So i can just use the soil at my backyard instead of buying potting mix to grow stuff? My backyard soil some of it look dry (exposed sun area), but some of it are very moist and dark. ( guess because not exposed under sun? ) Thanks

  13. Two Turtle Gardens says:

    Compost tea made my squash and melons POP! Interesting system. I am fortunate enough to collect eves trough water.Take care Rob and Nat

  14. G'Maw's Garden says:

    I use an empty Folgers plastic tub and put all coffee and tea grounds anything I don't just throw out the door for my chickens to get as they r free ranging about. I separate my eggs in a tin pie pan and low heat roast them and either feed them back to my chickens or add them to my compost after running them thru the food processor until they r finely ground up. If your chickens could get in there they would keep it turned for you. thnx for sharing

  15. David says:

    I add all the eggshells I can to my composting materials. They do NOT raise the pH of compost, if anything they are a buffer, but since you are adding them whole like this, it is highly unlikely that you will have much pH buffering as these things can literally take years to break down. You would have to add way more shells than you have here now to create any buffering problems. Unless you are actually checking the pH and realize an issue, I wouldn't worry about it.

    I think you are correct though, just add it to the pile. Putting all your leaves and kitchen/garden waste into a pile is a fantastic way to make compost. Keep it simple. Throw it on, turn it and forget it. This is exactly how I do it, and I have NEVER had an issue…..Thanks again for sharing this, fantastic stuff.

  16. ogbobbye says:

    That was one of the best composting video I've watched. I live in north Ohio and we stop collecting our scraps during the winter after what you said about having a bin to collect in I wanted to kick myself as I have a bin just like yours with hole in it that I put my extra stuff in during warm weather when I have to much. It never occurred to me to throw things in and basic store them for the spring. I have been composting for a few years now and I learn several things from watching your video that I plan to start doing. thanks, God Bless, and thumbs up to you.

  17. Don Rota says:

    If you've got a wood stove or a fire pit – adding ashes is another great carbon additive – char. Also fungus embedded wood chips. For starting seedlings – to get an early start in the spring – sift your compost, to get a smaller granularity soil, and then bake it. – that'll keep the critters from hatching out early in your house. – great job with these videos – easy solutions.

  18. A Thousand Words says:

    Very helpful video, thank you!
    If you put a few chickens into the pile for a day or two they'd turn it pretty well for you lol

  19. papuchu says:

    too many egg shells in that pile. Have you checked your cholesterol level lately?

  20. Adrienne Wacker says:

    Great video! Thanks! And great message at the end. 🙂

  21. Brian Alexander says:

    great job. it's simple and you keep it simple. I respect THAT

  22. Svetla Nikolova says:

    I use leaves , rabbit goat manure and left over veggie and fruit scraps to give to my manure worms! no piles needed!they do all the composting for me!

  23. Joshua Graham says:

    We use pine shavings from our chicken coop and they dont seem to be breaking down in the compost at all!! Any suggestions?

  24. Rob Rod says:

    Burning leaves for leaf ash has worked well in the past for me. mix it in with the rest of the leaves and compost and it really helps and gets great results for me

  25. Dennis Olivier says:

    Whe you pick up leaves and grass in bags in town, do you ever wonder what pesticides and herbicides they may have used on their grass and how it would affect your adding to your garden in the composted material

  26. Stephanie Durham says:

    Very helpful! Thanks!!

  27. Dale Poulette says:

    starting my compost today. getting my info on this past few days now I got my own bin just gotta fill it up and mix the good stuff

  28. Renee Roath says:

    how do you get into the compost. just jump over the fence, or did you make some kind of gate? I really like how simple this looks.

  29. Jim H says:

    Good stuff, thanks. I've started a compost pile. Kinda screwed up the mixture at first but after a few weeks it starts correcting itself when I slowly add the right things from the kitchen and lawn / garden clippings. Thanks for the video.

  30. Jerry Stevens says:

    Great tutorial but also several wood ''shipping pallets'' would make a nice solid rustic looking compost bin, easy and fast to build and 100% free,, and a much smarter approach too imo. Homemade compost should be good stuff and totally free. That's the point.

  31. jthomason20 says:

    you really shouldn't put citrus in compost

  32. Virgi M. says:

    do you find that your compost piles attract Rodents/Rats?!!

  33. zeppelinviolet says:

    I see your pile is outside but what about when it rains?

  34. B Cook says:

    An easy way of chopping leaves is torun them over with your lawnmower. I have a 15ft circle where I usually dump leaves and drive over them with my riding lawnmower, so that I spray them closer to the center of the circle. Then, its just a matter or raking up the shreds and dumping. If I had a bag system thatd be even easier.

  35. Jeepergirl says:

    Thanks so much for all the wonderful info.

  36. John Ambrogio says:

    I have a question: Is it alright to have your composting pile in the sunlight? Some sites state to have the pile in the shade and not in direct sunlight. Thank you

  37. John Ambrogio says:

    I have had a garden for almost 40 years, but never thought of composting until a couple years ago. This year I'm going to start my pile and have watched so many videos the last couple months that my head is spinning. Watching your video more or less has made my outlook on making compost easier. You are so right in saying that we throw to much away, in leaves, grass and waste from our kitchen, that we need to stop spending less on fertilizer and compost material and use what we have right in front of us. Again thanks for a very informative video.

  38. Joe Scott says:

    Everyone owns a shredder for leaves. It is called your lawnmower. If you own a bagging mower so much the better. Fill up the bag and into the compost it goes. That simple. We do not have many trees on our little acre but I will drive down the roads and as soon as I see a bag of leaves or grass clippings into the back of the truck it goes. I have even been known to go down to the local park on a leaf strewn day with my lawnmower. Having the mower on the highest setting possible I just suck up all of those leaves and into my compost they go. Since we live in zone 7 British Columbia I also get tons of seaweeds plus my chickens, goats and sheep make beautiful manure. It all goes into the compost.I make piles of leaves as well that are required for winter. Carrots, potatoes, bulb onion, turnip, rutabaga and the like are left in the garden over winter and covered with a foot of shredded leaves. All winter long we have fresh vegies dug right from the garden. We have never bought a fish in over 10 years. We fish for ourselves, gather clams, oysters, mussels and crab. All of the waste goes into the compost. Shells are crushed and added to the compost or directly to the soil if we are growing tomatoes in that area next year. Happy gardening and God bless.

  39. Gardening Tips With Phil says:

    Do you cover your compost heap? It is absolutely ridiculous what people do with their leaves , plant clippings and lawn clippings. Throwing them out is the most silliest thing and then buying fertiliser. Compost, worm castings and chicken manure is fantastic stuff. So is fish waste solids for a soil garden. Great composting video by the way.

  40. yack f zay says:

    We do the same things here.

  41. dan Hamakua says:

    We've become too dependent on the corporations to supply us with our materials when so many of the things we need can be found for free in nature.

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