Backyard composting doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, it’s pretty simple if you follow these tips on how to compost. The best part about compost is that it’s a process that happens naturally. Food and yard waste will naturally break down over time. By learning how to make your own compost, you can speed up this process and make your own dirt from food and yard scraps that otherwise would have been thrown in the trash.
How to Compost in your Backyard
1. The first step in composting how to is to pick a method of composting: backyard compost bin or backyard compost pile
There are many different backyard compost bins to choose from. You can find our favorites here.
A bin isn’t necessary, but here in Florida we prefer a closed bin so that animals aren’t drawn to the food scraps. Food will naturally decompose in a compost pile as long as you keep it around 1 cubic yard. Any smaller or larger and the right temperature may not be reached for proper decomposition.
Whether you decide to use a backyard compost bin or create a pile, it’s important to find the right spot for composting. Pick a spot that gets plenty of sunshine and isn’t located too close to plants. The decomposition process may kill plants located closely to the compost. It’s important to pick a sunny location so that the compost gets to the proper temperature to allow for decomposition. You should also avoid placing a bin too close to the house where water runoff can enter the bin.
2. Get a countertop compost bin
A countertop compost bin has a charcoal filter that keeps food scraps from smelling. Keep your bin near your chopping board so you can easily throw your fruit and vegetable food scraps into the bin.
Try to cut fruit and vegetable scraps into smaller pieces because a smaller surface area will decompose faster than a large one.
Wash your bin with soap and water each time you empty it into your outdoor compost bin. Replace your charcoal filter every 3 months. Need more filters? You can order them here.
3. Fill backyard compost bin correctly with a 2:1 ratio of browns to greens
The biggest mistake first time backyard composters make is not adding enough brown matter. It’s important to mix two parts brown (dry leaves, twigs, straw, cardboard, newspaper, and brown paper bags) with one part green (grass clippings, kitchen scraps, etc.). This ratio provides the best mix of carbon (brown materials) to nitrogen (greens).
Compost hack: if you don’t have enough dry leaves for your brown material, shred up brown paper bags. Ask for your groceries to be put into paper bags instead of plastic.
Read this post for more information on what you can and can’t compost.
4. Keep adding and turning
Compost needs air in order to breakdown and avoid smelling bad. If you have a compost pile, use a shovel to “turn” the compost at least once a week. If you have a backyard compost bin, it probably rotates. Rotate it each time you add scraps to your bin.
5. Keep it moist
Compost should be wet enough to feel like a wrung out sponge. If yours is too dry, add a little water when you turn it. Here in Southwest Florida, you only need to do this in the dry winter months.
6. Give it a break and get black gold
You don’t have to give your pile a break unless you want to get uniform dirt. A backyard composting wizard like this one will produce nutrient rich soil within two weeks. We find it best to have two composting wizards or one large one with two chambers. This gives us the opportunity to let half of it rest and turn into soil while we continue to add food scraps to the other bin.
You can do this with a pile too. Start adding scraps to one half while you give the other half a rest.
7. Use as soil
When your compost is ready it should feel and smell like topsoil. Compost should not smell bad! If it does, you probably don’t have enough carbon materials in your bin.
That’s all there is when learning how to make compost! It can seem daunting at times, but with a little effort you should have your own soil from your compost bin in a matter of months.
Need more help composting?
Even though backyard composting is simple, there are times where it might be too much for your situation. In those cases, let Naples Compost do the dirty work for you!
We will provide you with a countertop compost bin and compostable bags. Then we will pick it up on a designated day once a week. Several times a year you will be provided with finished soil.