Learn how to start a compost pile with easy step by step instructions. Anyone can easily do this and enjoy organic materials.

Compost bin ready to use.

So, you’ve decided it’s time to start composting? Great! You will not regret this decision. Once you know what to do, it really is easy and rewarding.

Make sure you read our post on How to Compost for some basic information. Today we want to talk about how to start a compost pile.

Yes, it is more than just dumping kitchen and yard scraps into a pile, but it isn’t complicated.

What is a compost pile?

It is a pile of kitchen scraps and yard waste that decompose into organic material. For example, this can be leaves and food scraps.

The composting material results in a fertilizer that can enrich soil health. The compost pile can help to recycle nutrients. It also helps to reduce the impact of droughts.

Turning the compost into organic matter is a simple process. It is very simple to turn the pile into useful material. Compost is a very good soil amendment if your soil does not have organic material, doesn’t retain water or is compacted.

What can you put in a compost pile?

  • Newspapers
  • Leaves
  • Garden waste
  • Dairy products
  • Grass Clippings
  • Vegetable Food Scraps
  • Coffee Grounds
  • Cardboard

How to start a compost pile:

In order to reap the best compost in the least amount of time, it is important to know the basics. Follow these easy steps and you’ll have nutrient rich compost before you know it.

Let’s get started with the composting process. Once you know these tips and tricks, it is so easy to compost.

We have broken the process down into easy step by step instructions. Anyone can easily make a compost pile following these instructions.

1. Have the Right Container

Compost bin ready to use.

Many seasoned composters will simply keep their compost in a pile somewhere near their garden. This is definitely an option. However, if you are just starting out, you might want to invest in a compost bin.

When we first started composted, we bought a bin similar to this from Sam’s Club. You can find a variety of compost bins on Amazon as well. Pick a bin that will fit well in the outdoor space you have.

There are many different options and sizes available to suit your needs. Choose the price and size best for your situation.

2. Start Your Pile

When you first start your compost pile, you’ll want to make sure you have a good balance of brown materials (leaves, sawdust, newspaper, etc) and green materials (coffee grounds, kitchen scraps, grass clippings, etc).

You will want to start your pile by layering a fairly equal amount of greens and browns. The equal amount of green and brown material is key to starting the pile. Once you have added your initial items, spray your pile lightly with water.

You don’t want to saturate your pile, you only want it as wet as a wrung-out sponge. This is very important so that it is not too wet or dry.

Composter Starter in a bag.

The smaller the items are that you add to your compost, the faster it will decompose (and turn into your nutrient rich soil). Adding healthy soil (not potting soil) can also aid decomposition.

If you don’t think you have good soil to add, you might want to buy some compost starter. Adding a little compost starter or nutrient rich soil to your compost is not necessary, but it will help speed things along to achieve the finished compost.

The starter is optional but a great aid in the process if you do not have good soil to add. It is fairly inexpensive and will jumpstart the process with the right combination of ingredients.

Compost in a pile.

3. Maintaining Your Compost Pile

Once you’ve learned how to start a compost pile, you’ll want to learn how to maintain it. After you have started with your initial layer of browns and greens, simply add your browns and greens when they are available.

If you noticed you’ve added a lot of kitchen waste (greens) lately, try to find some browns (shredded newspaper or leaves) to add. You can also sprinkle in your soil or compost starter every week or two.

Crank to turn pile.

Every couple of weeks, you are going to want to “stir” your compost pile. A pitchfork works a little better than a shovel, but just use what you have on hand. If you need to buy something to stir your pile, I really like this Compost Crank.

It is so easy to use and does a fantastic job stir up the compost.

Now you know how to start a compost pile.

If you do these minimal steps to take care of your compost pile, you will have nutrient rich soil within about 6-8 weeks. The entire process is easy and you will feel great knowing what you accomplished.

It doesn’t take a lot to get started. Hopefully now that you know how to start a compost pile, you can grab what you need and get started!

This is a great method to use waste and things you already have to turn it into something useful. Your soil will benefit from this, and it stems from using items already available.

It is such a useful way to use items that would otherwise be tossed and turn into organic matter. We would love to hear how your composting is going. Be sure to come back and update us on your journey and any tips and tricks you learn along the way.

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