Well, Heeeeyyyyy there!
As the winter sets in and the snow blows outside my window, I’m starting a Composting 101 video series. It’s crazy (and adorable, and funny!) to me how often I get questions about composting. Just the other day I was at dinner with some friends, and one gal I don’t know that well turned to me and said, “SO I hear you COMPOST!?” Hahahaha, why….yes, I do! And I’m oddly passionate about it! So funny that you ask so interestedly…..!
The sum of all these questions, though, is…… people WANT to compost at home, but 1) they don’t know how to start, and 2) they’re unsure of what to expect. So today I’m going to share with you three steps for super simple, easy composting for beginners, the lazy way! I am all about not making anything harder than it has to be. And composting is so easy that you can truly be lazy with it. By the end of this blog post, you’re going to have everything you need to make DIY compost at home, in your own bin or pile, however you decide to do it. Or, skip the reading and let me sum it up for you in this quick video. Plus, download my free Composting Cheat Sheet to have the basics right at your fingertips.
Step 1 for beginner composting is choose a location.
No brainer? Not so fast! Most people don’t realize that composting should not stink if you’re doing it right. (If you’re following my tips, it’s not going to stink.) So while you may be thinking it needs to be far away from your house, that’s not the case. If it’s easier or more convenient for you to have it closer to your house, do it that way. My compost bin is in the back of my yard because it’s close to the vegetable bed (where I use compost most often) and we also have an HOA. If you have an HOA, you might want to check with those guidelines because they tend to have opinions as to where they want you to put your compost bin.
All right, now that you’ve figured out a good location…
Step 2 is to pick a good format for your home composting.
Are you going to have a pile or a bin? Do you have a budget? Do you want to buy something? Do you want to make something? There are many options. You can start out with a pile on the ground, and it will work. (As long as you have a good mix, and we’ll get to that in a minute.) The next step up would be some sort of basic, easy enclosure. With four fence posts in the ground, wrap some wire fencing to create three sides around your pile. Old pallets also work great for making sides around your pile. While a plain old pile is fine, some sides to your compost pile will allow it to get deeper and fuller, which allows the pile to get hotter in the center and break down faster.
The other option is to buy a bin. There are many options out there. The one I use is called a Soil Saver. (This is not a sponsored post.) My SoilSaver is such a workhorse – I throw stuff in, forget about it, and inevitably, when I start poking around in there, I find compost! We’ve had it for over 10 years, and you’d better believe it even moved with us to our current house!
Special bonus tip! I actually got our SoilSaver compost bin from our city recycling center. You might want to check with your city landfill or recycling center and see if they have any compost bins that are discounted.
EXTRA special bonus tip! I highly, highly, highly recommend whatever format you choose for your pile, make sure it is open on the bottom. I’ve had great luck with a pile on the ground, and I think it has to do with allowing the microbes to come up into the bin from the soil.
Step 3: Add all the things to your compost pile.
Seriously, put lots of stuff in it. The more stuff, the bigger the pile, the hotter it’s going to get and the faster it will break down. The two things you need to know about adding to the compost pile are “GREENS” and “BROWNS”.
- Greens are things like kitchen scraps (things like banana peels, apple cores, potato peelings, and coffee grounds are included in Greens also even though they are brown/black in color.) Greens also include yard trimmings and grass clippings.
- Browns are things like dried leaves or dried grass clippings, straw, and paper. The three primary browns that I like to use are dried fall leaves, shredded paper and straw.
- If you have a pretty good mix of greens versus browns, you’re going to be off to a really good start. I’m not going to get super specific on the ratio, because we’re keeping it easy and simple. But, I do have this Composting Cheat Sheet printable for you that does include more specifics like the greens versus browns ratio, plus lots of other helpful tidbits.
So how should you store your kitchen scraps before you take them outside? I’ve tried fancy compost pails, but after many years of home composting, it turns out a plastic coffee can actually works best for our kitchen scraps. The coffee “can” is plastic, has a molded handle that makes it easy to pick up and it’s just the right size that it isn’t smelly by the time it’s full and ready to be dumped on the compost pile. It takes about two days to fill it up with all of our kitchen scraps.
So now you know the basic tips for easy composting for beginners, (the lazy way! no technical mumbo-jumbo here), but it’s hard to compost if you can’t remember what to put in your bin. Again, I’m here to make composting EASY, so the Composting Cheat Sheet has lists of “greens” and “browns” for you, too. Once you get started with home composting, it will become second nature, but definitely reference the Cheat Sheet to help you get going. The printable also lists some things to avoid, plus frequently asked questions.
Okay guys, so you’ve got my easy tips for beginning composting. I would love to hear down below in the comments if you’re on the fence or you’re a beginner composter. What has kept you from getting started? I would love to hear if something was particularly helpful to get you moving. If you like this post, please share with any friends who might also be interested in composting for beginners, and stay tuned for more beginner composting posts and videos!