Composting: So Many Options, So Few Rules

Composting is easy, produces concrete benefits (excellent compost and fresher smelling garbage cans), and helps protect your sewer/septic system. Apartment-dwellers and homeowners alike can compost.

There are just a few basic rules to follow when composting.

  • Compost vegetable scraps, egg shells (but not eggs), coffee grounds/used tea bags, and even newspaper (but shred it first)
  • DO NOT compost meat, bones, animal fats
  • Think 50/50: try to maintain roughly a 50 percent green to brown mix in your compost pile. Green = veggie scraps, etc.  Brown = leaves, straw, dirt. You need a good mix of both green and brown to make good compost.
  • Stir that pile every now and then. The more you stir it, the faster you will get compost.
  • Add a little water if the pile gets dry.
  • Give it time.


Low-tech compost pile: plastic garbage can with lid.

My low-tech compost pile: plastic garbage can with lid. 

Good compost isn’t created in a day, or even a week. It’s smart to have a couple of piles going at once, since you will want to “retire” one pile after a while and let everything in it age to compost-y perfection. Keep stirring the “retired” pile to help the contents biodegrade.

Composting Options:

  • Wood pallets. These designs can be complicated or not. I prefer not, so check out these instructions:

  • Lots of composting options in one spot:

  • The Little House on the Prairie Version (if plastic had been invented then):

  • Buy a ready-made composter (tons of options):

Interested in Worm Composting?

Here’s a great tutorial for getting started:

Whatever direction your composting efforts take you, be cautioned. Composting is a gateway drug for other “green” practices. Before you know it, you will be recycling like crazy, planting a home garden, and collecting rainwater.

Full compost bin, with lid in background. I will let it sit -- and stir occasionally -- for about six months.

Full compost bin, with lid in background. I will let it sit — and stir occasionally — for about six months.




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One response to “Composting: So Many Options, So Few Rules”

  1. abbywolford says :

    Yay, thanks! The community garden in my apartment complex has a compost bin that no one has known how to use. I am going to post a sign on it with some of this information. I hadn’t had a chance to do the research for it yet this year. Thanks for doing it for me!

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