Composting for Dummies

Composting, described as nature’s way of recycling, is the biological process of breaking up organic waste such as kitchen waste, coffee grounds, etc., into extremely useful soil-like substance by various micro-organisms including bacteria, and fungi.  The important advantage of composting is that we can return the nutrients from our food wastes to the soil in an environmentally safe way, unlike other fertilizers that have a number of pathogens living in them that can cause harm to food crops and to humans eating those crops.


Composting provides you with rich organic matter that works miracles to improve the quality of your garden soil.  Whether you scatter your compost on the surface of the soil or work it in, you garden plants will grow healthier and stronger.  Here are a few benefits the EPA lists for composting:

  1. Reduces or eliminates the need for chemical fertilizers.
  2. Promotes higher yields of agricultural crops.
  3. Serves as a marketable commodity and is a low-cost alternative to standard landfill cover and artificial soil amendments.
  4. Extends municipal landfill life by diverting organic materials from landfills.

You need very little equipment to start composting.  If you need to buy equipment visit garden centers or home improvement and hardware stores and try out the necessary hand tools you will need for composting.  Their length and weight should be comfortable for you to use over extended periods of turning and shoveling organic matter.  However, borrowing tools, from your neighbors, is a great way to get involved with your community and build lasting relationships! The basic tools to get started are:

  1. Compost fork or a pitchfork- Long, thin tines allow you to toss large amounts of organic material.
  2. Shovel or spade-Helps you turn compost or incorporate finished compost into your garden.
  3. Hose and spray nozzle- Moisture is an essential component of a fast-acting compost pile.

Here is a great informational Youtube video to help you begin your compost pile!

The best thing about composting is that it is time manageable. You can take as much or as little time as you want or need to.  If your time is limited and you want to speed up the process to get compost fast follow these tips:

  1. Increase the surface area of your ingredients-Before adding to your compost, chop, shred, crack, whack, and smack organic matter into small pieces. This will allow soil organisms’ easy access to begin consuming and breaking them down.
  2. Dampen your compost- Fast-acting compost piles contain about 40 to 60 percent water. Squeeze handfuls of compost from various sections of the pile to check its moisture level.

There are many ways to compost.  This website gives you eight options for your own compost pile. Which one will you try?

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