How to Make Compost

by Amy Gordon
(last updated October 17, 2014)

Compost is an extremely important gardening tool, and it is actually something that you can make on your own. If you decide to go down that route, here is a bit of advice to start making your own compost.

A fifty gallon plastic or metal barrel or dustbin makes a good compost container. First, remove both ends to make an open cylinder. Then set it upright in a corner of the garden and raise it on bricks to allow air to circulate beneath. On the bottom, arrange a layer of crossing sticks or a similar base that will allow air in. There should also be a cover to keep the rain out. Fill the drum gradually with compost material. When the drum is full, let the compost age for six to twelve months, then lift it to release a pile of garden-ready humus.

In a small garden or on a roof terrace, conceal your compost neatly in a large garbage can lined with a black plastic bag. If the compost material is dry, such as autumn leaves, add a gallon of water and a sprinkling of ammonium sulphate. Seal the lid tightly to keep in any smells. The composting process should be complete in three to four months.

Here are a few tips to help you decide what makes good compost material.

Use your kitchen leftovers to feed your plants. Fill a compost bin gradually with alternating six-inch layers of kitchen waste (no meat scraps, grease or bones), garden debris (no weed seeds) and soil. Add a sprinkling of ammonium sulphate to each layer. (A little lime will also help, but do not add it if you're going to use the compost to top-dress acid-loving plants such as azaleas.) Let the mixture age for three to six months, dousing it regularly with a hose.

Standard rural compost ingredients such as animal manure and spoiled hay may be hard to come by. Look around your town for suitable industrial byproducts instead: shredded cardboard and newspaper, rotten vegetables from the green grocer, mill wastes of wool and silk, or hair clippings from the barbershop. All can be used on the compost heap.

Warning: Do not use ashes from the barbecue, dog or cat droppings, or shredded magazines; they may contain sulfur oxides, organisms, or inks that are bad for plants. Also be sure to avoid cooking oils or fats; they attract scavenging animals and will slow down the composting process.

Author Bio

Amy Gordon

Amy Gordon loves keeping things simple, natural, and safe so she can spend more time having fun. Every day she learns new things about making life at home easier and she loves to share it with you! ...

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