How to Start Composting at Home

Hello! In my last post, I discussed the differences between degradable, biodegradable, and compostable. Today, I want to teach you how to make a compost pile! So get your shovels and kitchen waste ready, it’s going to be a fun project!

*Background knowledge*

A compost pile is an outdoor heap that you can pile plant waste into so it decomposes. The resulting decomposed matter is nitrogen and carbon-rich. These chemicals are important for the growth of plants and act as a fertilizer. A fertilizer is a nutrient-rich substance that helps plants to grow. 

When we eat, we need a certain set of materials like a bowl, a spoon, or cookware. Plants are the same way, but instead of needing utensils, they must have carbon, water, and sunlight. This is the process of photosynthesis. The process allows plants to take in sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water to produce sugar. Their cells absorb this sugar as their food, which helps them to grow.

Adding in fertilizer is a good way to grow plants and keep the soil healthy. Composting gives back to the carbon cycle as decomposers make carbon dioxide, which plants use to grow. Also, fertilizers have important nutrients, which help plants to grow bigger and faster.

Has anyone ever told you, “you have to eat your vegetables to grow big and strong!” Well, it’s the same for plants, but instead of vegetables, plants have to eat their nitrogen to grow up and thrive.

Nitrogen is an essential nutrient for the growth of every organism on Earth. Nitrogen is a major component of chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is what gives plants their green color and absorbs sunlight. Photosynthesis takes place within chloroplasts, which are bundles of chlorophyll heaped together. 

By adding nitrogen-rich compost, you can help your plants produce more chlorophyll. In turn, this helps them grow big and strong because they can create more sugars.  

*Steps for creating a compost pile*

Now that we know why fertilizer can help plants to grow, let’s go over how to make a compost pile so you can make your own plant fertilizer!

To make a compost pile, you need some space away from your home because it can get pretty smelly. (That stinky smell comes from decomposers tooting out methane.) The corner of a garden or some other place away from the house is good. You should place your pile in a compost box or on the soil to allow easy movement of insects and decomposers.

The best base for a compost pile is a layer of sand, bricks, or gravel. It also allows for the water to run away, so your pile doesn’t get too soggy. The best compost piles have lots of little spaces inside, to allow air to move around.

When making a compost pile, you should layer different types of waste. For example, putting a layer of vegetable waste and covering it with wood chips or laying down a layer of grass clippings over some dried leaves. Layering allows for the decomposition of different materials together, meaning that the soil will be more mixed. 

Also, the carbon (brown) to nitrogen (green) ratio should be 30:1. This means if you put 30 parts of brown material you should put one part green matter. For example, if I put 30 cups of wood chips in a pile, I should put 1 cup of vegetable matter in the pile as well. But, these don’t have to be exact measurements, you can use approximations.

Green matter refers to the green stuff. Things like vegetable waste, grass clippings, eggshells, animal manure, eggshells, and weeds. Brown matter is the nitrogen-rich brown materials. These include wood chippings, leaves, straw, dead plants, sawdust, and coffee grounds.

Watering the compost pile is also a good idea, especially in dry areas. The water helps encourage the waste to rot and turn into compost. In anywhere from 3 to 6 months, the compost will be ready. The compost is ready when it smells like thick earth, with no smell of decay or rot. Stirring your compost pile can also speed up the process.

I hope you all enjoy this fun and interesting practice! Comment down below your compost results and if this was a helpful tutorial! I look forward to connecting with y’all later! Till next time! 

Photo credits: @Eden Project,, @Subdues

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