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Composting 101: Turning Kitchen Scraps to Garden Gold

Composting 101: Turning Kitchen Scraps to Garden Gold

Composting is a simple yet transformative practice that allows you to turn kitchen and yard waste into a nutrient-rich soil amendment. We will explore the basics of composting, it's benefits, and provide you with a comprehensive guide on how to start your own compost pile. 

Unveiling the Black Gold of Gardening

Compost is the result of the natural decomposition of organic matter. Its often referred to as "black gold" due to its rich, dark color and the valuable nutrients it adds to soil. Composting is essentially the process of creating a controlled environment that facilitates the breakdown of organic materials into a nutrient- dense humus. 

A Win-Win for You and the Environment

1) Enriches the Soil

Compost improves soil structure and fertility by providing essential nutrients. It enhances water retention in sandy soils and improves drainage in clayey soils, creating an optimal environment for plant growth.

2) Reduces Waste

Composting diverts kitchen and yard waster from landfills, reducing the production of methane a potent greenhouse gas. By composting, you contribute to waste reduction and promote environmental sustainability. 

3) Prevents Plant Diseases

The microorganisms present in compost help suppress harmful plant diseases, creating healthier environment for your plants. 

4) Enhances Water Efficiency

Compost improves the water- holding capacity of soil, reducing the need for frequent watering. This is very beneficial during dry periods. 

5) Encourages Biodiversity 

Composting fosters a diverse ecosystem of microorganisms, insects, and beneficial bacteria, promoting overall soil health. 

A Step- by- Step Guide

1) Location

Select a suitable location for your compost pile. Ideally, it should be in a well drained area with good air circulation. Consider using a compost bin or constructing a simple enclosure with materials like wire mesh or wooden pallets.

2) Gather Brown and Green Materials

  • Brown Materials: High- carbon materials like dry leaves, straw, and shredded newspaper
  • Green Materials: High-nitrogen materials like kitchen scraps (fruit and vegetable peels, coffee grounds), fresh yard waste, and green trimmings. Avoid too many citrus peels.

3) Create Layers

Alternate layers of brown and green materials to achieve a balanced compost pile. Aim for a mix of roughly 3 parts brown to 1 part green materials. This balance ensures proper decomposition and prevents unpleasant odors. 

However, this is not the only way to compost, you can check out this article from EPA to get other ideas and techniques.

4) Add Water

Moisten the compost pile as you build it. The materials should feel like a damp sponge. On a fairly regular basis, make sure to turn the compost and monitor its moisture level to ensure a consistent, damp environment.

5) Turn the Compost

Turning the compost helps aerate the pile, speeding up the decomposition process. Use a pitchfork or compost turner to mix the materials thoroughly. 

6) Be Patient

Composting is a natural process that takes time. Depending on factors like size, materials, and environmental conditions, our compost can be ready in a few months to a year.

What to Put in Your Compost: A Recipe for Success

Green Materials (Nitrogen Rich)

  • Fruit and Vegetable Scraps
  • Coffee Grounds and filters
  • Eggshells
  • Grass clippings ( in moderation)
  • Green plant trimmings

Brown Materials (Carbon Rich)

  • Dry Leaves
  • Straw
  • Shredded Newspaper
  • Cardboard (small pieces)
  • Sawdust (in moderation)

Items to Avoid: 

  • Meat and Dairy Products (rots & attracts pests)
  • Diseased Plants
  • Pet waste (harmful pathogens)
  • Weeds with mature seeds
  • Oily or greasy materials


Starting a compost pile is a rewarding journey that not only transforms waste into a valuable soil conditioner as well as contributes to a more sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyle. As you embark on your composting adventure, remember that patience and consistency is key. With the right mix of materials and a little effort, you'll soon be cultivating "black gold" that will enrich your garden and nourish the earth. Happy composting!