What Is Compost? How To Compost? 

What Is Compost? How To Compost? Compost is one of the greatest things ever! You can make your own compost, and it’s truly easy.

Compost is a nutrient dense fertilizer made from organic waste. You can compost anything that will decompose. Here is a short list of things I compost:

  • Egg shells
  • Fruit and Vegetable scraps
  • All food scraps
  • Meat
  • Dog poop
  • Ashes
  • Coffee grounds
  • Dead animals (roadkill or livestock loss)
  • Paper products that aren’t toxic
  • Grass clippings
  • Manure (horse, cow, goat, pig, sheep etc)

In order to get started composting you need something to contain the compost. This could be anything you want it to be. I would highly recommend that you use recycled or reused materials. They are cheap/free and you are putting them to good use. Make sure there are no toxic substances in/on these reused items, as this would defeat the purpose of composting, which is to create a clean, nutrient-dense fertilizer for your garden and fruit trees, or even your pasture.

Let’s take a look at the compost system Jake and I built in less than a day with materials we had on hand.

As you can see we’ve built a substantial composting system. There are three bins/compartments. The bins on the outside are for composting and have a layer of hardware cloth inside the steel panels. The bin in the middle is for holding our carbon. In this case, we are using hay. We also put a roof over this bin to keep it dry, which is good to do, but not necessary. You may also notice in the second picture that we have wooden slats to prevent our compost from spilling out onto the ground. This is key. It will keep the compost where it belongs, and keep more nutrients in the compost.

After you have created your compost containment system, which is not necessary, but recommended, you are ready to compost!

To start composting you need a source of carbon. Here are some carbon sources:

  • Straw or hay
  • Leaves
  • Wood chips or saw dust
  • Paper
  • Wood ashes

In my experience, it’s best to use straw, hay, wood chips or saw dust. Try to use organic carbon sources. At the very least please use GMO free hay/straw if you plan on using that.

To start, you need to put down a layer of carbon. Once you’ve done this, you just add your organic wastes. Once you have added your organic wastes, you pile on a little more carbon, and you will continue this layering action. I keep a 2 1/2 gallon bucket in the house, and take it out once a week. This way, you are not running out to your compost pile everyday. After each addition to the pile, I like to give the compost a little water. You want your compost pile to be damp, not soaking. Like a damp sponge. You can keep this process going until you have filled up your bin. Then, you can switch to your second bin while your first batch of compost is doing its thing. This is why we designed our 3 bin system the way we did.

Many people will talk about turning compost. How often, when, how and why? I would say that you can turn it about once a month. I only turn my compost once. After I fill the bin, I’ll let it work for a week or two, then I’ll turn it and water it. Then All you need to do is wait for it to have a rick dark color and an earthy smell. Once you have this, it’s ready to use! If you don’t have a garden, you can spread the compost around your yard, under trees or anything else. However, this is a great opportunity to start a garden.

That’s it! Many people will go on and on about the prefect conditions for composting. My advice to you would be to keep it simple and just start composting. You will learn as you go. The important thing is that you are putting these organic wastes to good use and not throwing them in the landfill where they will be wasted. You will be surprised by how little trash you now have.

What did you think of my post on composting? How long have you been composting? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section.

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Chris Stelzer

Chris Stelzer is a published Author, founder of Agricultural Insights and creator of many resources that help family farmers and ranchers grow their businesses. His flagship courses are the Grazing Mastery Program and The Farm Marketing Mastery Program. 

Chris Stelzer

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