From the Kitchen to the Garden: Learn How to Create Compost

What’s not to love about composting?

It's an easy, inexpensive and organic way to support your garden. Rather than throw out kitchen or yard waste, you can save these materials that are rich in nitrogen and carbon to create an organic supplement that will nourish your soil and improve plant growth. We'll explain how it works.

What can I compost?

From the kitchen and the household, you can compost pruned houseplant foliage, peels and skins from fruits and vegetables, eggshells, coffee, and tea bags. Anything that came from the soil can be put back into the soil (provided all paper, plastic, and synthetic materials are removed). You do not want to compost meat, fat, or bones.

From the yard, you can use anything from dead annuals to grass clippings to leaves. However, you don’t want to compost diseased or poisonous plants or plant parts or weeds. You may also want to stay clear of plants with thorns.

How do I compost?

First, you need a compost bin. It needs to be big enough to hold the materials and for you to stir the materials within. The compost bin should also be able to hold moisture and provide air flow.

To speed up the composting process, first chop or shred all materials before adding to the pile.

Layer the carbon and nitrogen materials so that you first put in about 3 inches of brown materials like leaves and grass clippings (carbon), and then add in the same amount of green materials like vegetable and fruit waste (nitrogen). Sprinkle the layers with water until it's the same moisture level as a sponge and stir. Repeat these steps until the bin is full.

It will take at least 6 weeks for the compost to be ready. You will know it's time to put it to use when it’s the texture of fine soil.

How does composting work?

The combination of house and yard waste, water, and air create bacteria and fungi that are good for the soil. The carbon from the brown yard waste and the nitrogen from the food waste mixed with water and oxygen feeds live bacteria and fungi. This bacteria and fungi produce nutrients that feed the soil and plants.

When the compost is ready, liberally, but gently work it into your garden’s soil and/or plant containers.

*Tip: Try to plan so that your compost is soil-ready in fall and spring. This will help provide nutrients throughout the year so your plants maintain optimum health.

To learn more information about composting, see "Leaves Make Great Organic Mulch and Compost."

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