How to Compost


Compost! This includes things like food scraps, grass, yard clippings, dead plants. It breaks down into wonderful, rich soil, and keeps waste out of the landfill.

Composting is very easy to do – all you need is some sort of composting bin outside.

You can compost all sorts of organic materials, from orange peels to tea bags, avoiding things like greasy items.  You don’t want to compost things like cheese or meat.  And avoid anything that might take a really long time to break down, such as a coconut shell or even pistachio shells.

Maintenance consists of watering, turning, and adding things like grass clippings or leaves.  You want to find a good balance of composted foods, as well as things like yard waste.

Spring is a great time of year to begin composting if you are starting out. It will fill up quickly especially if you frequent farmer’s markets or are a member of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture share – check out to find one near you), and coincides well with doing yard work and gardening.

Where can you find compost bins? Some towns offer discounted compost bins (although I have not found any local towns near me that do), or you can check with local garden supply stores. Last year I was pleasantly surprised to see a nice bin at BJ’s Wholesale Club for a decent price. You can of course purchase bins online, and might be a good option as they offer free shipping on many items over $25, and offer a variety of bins, including these classic bins like the Soil Saver Classic Compost bin or the Redmon Culture 65 Gallon Compost Bin.

You may also want to think about getting an indoor composting crock for the kitchen counter, which makes it convenient to toss items into until you can make one bigger trip to the compost bin.  This goes for everything from some crackers my toddler dropped on the floor to watermelon rinds and corn cobs from a summer cookout. The indoor bin is especially handy in the winter, when I continually procrastinate taking out the compost (our winters in the Northeast can be particularly bitter). The compost probably won’t be active (breaking down) during the winter months, but you can continue to add to the bin so that you have more volume when the weather warms up.  I recommend something like a Ceramic  or Stainless Steel compost crock, or more recently I tried a BioBag Composting Bucket with biodegradable bags, and I love it.  This way, you take the whole bag to the compost bin – no cleanup required (just don’t leave a lot of wet items in it that will cause the bottom of the bag to break down).

And soon enough, you will have amazing compost that you can use for your lawn or garden! My toddler is a great helper with the compost and knows the difference between garbage, recycling, and compost.



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  1. 1
    Linda Long says:

    Thanks for the article, I want to start composting now so that I have the soil to use for container gardening next year, so this was very timely for me. I do have a question for you. How far from the house should I place my bins? I live in town so only have an average sized yard. If I understand correctly, these do not have an odor unless you put the wrong kinds of things inside, is that right?

  2. 2

    Hi Linda,
    For our compost bin, I picked a spot that was convenient to get to, but not too visible, and I kept it away from windows. It shouldn’t have a strong smell if you stick to the “rules” of composting (like no grease), but it does take effort to keep the right balance (like turning it regularly). Mine if about 5 feet from the house, and my only suggestion is you may want to keep it away from where you would have a window that you keep open.

  3. 3
    Linda Long says:

    Thanks for the info!

  4. 4
    Pat Haines says:

    Just a quick addition. No meat products or animal waste :-)

  5. 5

    I reviewed a Nature Mill Automatic Composter, it heats & turns automatically and you can even put meat, dairy & fish in it. :-)

  6. 6

    I’ve been composting for a few years and I still learned a thing or two from reading this. Thanks!

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