Composting is like baking a cake. Simply add the
ingredients, stir, "bake," and out comes -- compost!
Whether you compost kitchen wastes or yard and
garden wastes, there are a few basic steps to
follow. Here are the necessary ingredients and
general directions for composting.
Add a mixture of some or all of the following
1. Choose a "pot" for baking your compost. Any type
of composting bin will do.
2. Place kitchen or yard wastes into the composting bin. Chop
or shred the organic materials if you want them to compost quickly.
3. Spread soil or "already done" compost over the
compost pile. This layer contains the microorganisms and soil
animals that do the work of making the compost. It also helps
keep the surface from drying out.
4. Adjust the moisture in your compost pile. Add dry straw
or sawdust to soggy materials, or add water to a pile that is
too dry. The materials should be damp to the touch, but not so
wet that drops come out when you squeeze it.
5. Allow the pile to "bake." It should heat up quickly
and reach the desired temperature (90° to 140°F, or 32°
to 60°C) in four to five days.
6. Stir your compost as it bakes if you want to speed up the
7. The pile will settle down from its original height. This
is a good sign that the compost is baking properly.
8. If you mix or turn your compost pile every week, it should be "done," or ready to use, in one to two months. If you don't turn it, the compost should be ready in about six to twelve months.
9. Your "best ever compost" should look like dark
crumbly soil mixed with small pieces of organic material. It should
have a sweet, earthy smell.
10. Feed compost to hungry plants by mixing it with the soil.
Cornell Waste Management Institute ©1996
Department of Crop and Soil Sciences
Bradfield Hall, Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853