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How To Start A Compost Bin: The Beginner’s Guide to Composting

Are you looking for a way to reduce your waste while also helping out your garden? Composting is the answer! Composting is an easy and sustainable way of disposing of kitchen food scraps and garden waste, which results in nutrient-rich compost that can be used to help nourish plants. With this beginner’s guide, you’ll learn how to start a compost bin with ease and how to maintain it so that you get the best quality compost for your garden.

The Benefits of Composting

man holding composted dirt

Composting is an incredibly beneficial activity for both the environment and your garden. Because composting converts organic materials into nutrient-rich compost, it helps reduce the amount of organic materials going into landfills. This benefits the environment by reducing methane emissions produced by rotting organic matter in landfills.  Composting is also an easy way to save money on buying fertilizers and other soil amendments at the store because you can make your own nutrient-rich compost from the comfort of your own home. It’s also a great way to teach kids how to recycle responsibly and how their actions can make a difference for the planet. Finally, when done correctly with proper care, composting doesn’t produce wildly unpleasant odors and does not attract pests like flies or rodents.

When Can You Start A Compost Bin

three different compost bins

Fortunately, you don’t have to wait for a specific time of year in order to start your own compost bin – it’s possible to do so all year round! Regardless of the season, you can create a thriving compost pile in as little as six months with proper care. When picking out the perfect spot for your site, keep in mind that micro-organisms prefer constant conditions; late summer or early winter are peak times for making compost.

How to Pick a Good Place to Compost

A compost bin behind a shrub

Finding the right spot for your compost bin is essential in keeping it from stinking up your house. It’s important to pick a location that is partially shaded and placed directly onto soil. This will ensure optimal conditions for the micro-organisms in the compost pile, allowing them to do their job effectively without producing any nasty smells. Additionally, try to avoid placing your compost bin too close to windows or vents as this could cause odors to drift inside of your home. Lastly, make sure that you’re able to access it easily so that you can tend to it regularly and keep it well maintained!

Different Methods for Home Composting

A large compost pile

There are many different methods for home composting, from small indoor bins to large outdoor piles. Whether you’re looking for a simple solution or something more complex, there’s a method out there for everyone! Indoor bins are great for those with limited space or who want to keep their compost contained indoors. Outdoor piles are better suited for larger gardens as they require more space but can yield greater amounts of compost. Compost tumblers offer the convenience of turning your pile without having to manually do so while also keeping it sealed off from rodents and other pests. No matter how much space you have available, there’s sure to be a method that works best for your needs!

What You Should and Shouldn’t Add To Your Compost Bin

How to start a compost bin with the right materials

When it comes to composting, there are certain items you should and shouldn’t add to your bin. It’s important to avoid adding meat products as they will not only attract flies but also produce an unpleasant smell. Additionally, dairy products like milk or cheese should not be added because they take a long time to break down and can introduce bacteria into the compost pile which could contaminate soil. Other items that you should avoid adding include pet waste, diseased plants, fats or oils, weeds with seeds, synthetic chemicals and plastics. On the other hand, some of the best ingredients for your compost bin include grass clippings, vegetable scraps and peels (including onions), coffee grounds and filters, tea bags (without staples) eggshells (crushed), shredded newspaper or cardboard (no glossy paper). All these materials will help create nutrient-rich compost in no time!

Tips For Maintaining A Healthy, Active Compost Pile/Bin

Maintaining a healthy, active compost bin is essential for producing nutrient-rich soil, so it’s important to be diligent in how you care for your compost pile. One of the most important tasks is to make sure that your compost is moist but not wet; too much water can suffocate microbes while too little can cause the compost to dry out, leading to an unpleasant smell. Aim for a moisture content of around 50%-60%, and check it regularly by squeezing a handful of compost together – it should feel slightly damp but not sticky. Additionally, you need good oxygen circulation to keep your compost pile active and healthy. Make sure to turn your pile every few weeks with a pitchfork or shovel in order to aerate it properly.

Troubleshooting Common Problems With Home Composting

There are plenty of common problems that you may encounter when attempting to start or maintain a compost bin. From bad smells and pests to slow decomposition, these issues can be frustrating but with the right knowledge and techniques, they can be avoided or solved quickly!


Unpleasant odors are often caused by an excessive amount of moisture in the compost bin; to fix this, make sure to regulate how much water you add, as too much can suffocate microbes while too little can cause the compost to dry out. Additionally, adding the wrong ingredients can also lead to bad smells – avoid adding meat products, dairy products like milk or cheese, pet waste, diseased plants, fats or oils, weeds with seeds and synthetic chemicals and plastics as these items will attract pests and produce foul odors which could contaminate your compost pile.


Pests are another common problem for home composters. These creatures feast on organic matter and moist soil conditions that are often present in a compost bin. To get rid of them naturally without using harsh pesticides, try introducing natural predators such as frogs or birds into your garden. You can also create barriers around your bin by burying chicken wire or hardware cloth at least one foot deep into the ground – this will help deter some animals from getting close enough to cause any damage.

Slow Decomposition

If you’re noticing slow decomposition times in your compost bin despite proper aeration and moisture levels then start by analyzing what types of materials you’re adding. Raw materials such as wood chips take longer than pre-treated ones such as shredded newspaper to break down so make sure that you aren’t overloading your bin with large chunks of material that take more time to decompose. Additionally, cutting up larger scraps into smaller pieces before adding them in helps speed up decomposition times as well! Finally, using a pitchfork or shovel every few weeks will help keep oxygen circulation going throughout your pile which is essential for fast decomposition rates.

Comment About Your Compost Bin

The process of setting up a compost bin is easy and the rewards are plentiful! We invite our readers to tell us how they have set up their compost bins and how they maintain its ecosystem. Do you prefer a tumbler style bin or a simple heap? What materials do you add to your compost pile? Do you make sure to regularly turn it with a pitchfork or shovel? What kind of pests have you encountered and how did you manage them? How often do you harvest the nutrient-rich soil from your compost bin? These are just some of the questions we’d love to hear answered by our readers!

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