How To Make Compost- Easy Method To Make Compost In Your Garden - No Plant No Life

Monday, November 14, 2022

How To Make Compost- Easy Method To Make Compost In Your Garden

You have probably heard that compost is a gardener's best friend, it's the absolute best thing you can use to fertilize flowers, trees, shrubs, and vegetables, and I even like using it to top-dress my lawn in the wintertime just to add some organic matter. 

It is just all round good stuff, the broken-down organic matter is full of nutrients that are slowly released, and the plant takes them when they need them.

You can break up hard compacted clay soil with compost, it will make it drain better, you can also add it to sandy soil to make it hold water better, compost is like the universal best awesome thing you could ever possibly have to add to any kind of plant, they all love it.

A lot of times, I get asked by newbies, how do I start composting? They get bombarded with a lot of technical information and it's like some people just like to make stuff so much more complicated than it needs to be. 

I compost in the most simple way possible, and I have been doing it for at least five years, I make a lot of compost every year and am going to tell you all the basics of composting, what to use and what not to use. Without further ado, let's jump into it.


Compost is basically a combination of various ingredients used as plant fertilizers to enhance the biological, chemical, and physical properties of the soil. 

The ingredients used undergoes decomposition which turns the mixture into a substance rich in nutrients useful for both plants and other microbes in the soil. 


To make compost you need four basic ingredients for the bacteria to react, these ingredients include;

1. GREEN MATERIAL (Source of Nitrogen)

2. BROWN MATERIAL (Source of Carbon)


4. AIR

With these four ingredients, you will get good bacteria to break down your compost and make compost very quickly. 


The green materials needed include;

1. Kitchen scraps

2. Grass clippings 

3. Coffee grounds

4. Green yard waste


The brown materials needed include;

1. Newspaper

2. Cardboard

3. Sawdust

4. Dried leaves


1. Glossy newspaper/cardboard

Don't compost anything glossy like glossy cardboard that reflect light, it's not going to break down very well and you don't know what type of chemicals could or could not be in it.

Also, the high glossy newspaper inserts you get in the mail, you should stay away from those too. 

2. Non-plant-based materials.

Stay away from anything that is a non-plant-based material like meat and cheese scraps, don't do it. 

It's going to break down definitely but it's going to take a very long time and it's probably going to attract some raccoons or other animals that you may not want tearing up your pile in the process.

Am a big proponent of keeping your compost on the ground because the worms will find and help break down the remaining organic matter, that's just one of the huge benefits of keeping your compost on the ground if your situation allows for it.


Step 1.

Layer Brown/Green Materials

To build a pile what do you do? Well, you probably have heard this before but am going to repeat it anyways, you start with layers, layer your browns,  then your greens, then your browns, and you just keep doing it. 

This is just the easiest way to get your pile started. Constantly mix them up and add a little bit of water to the dry sawdust and cardboard. 

Step 2.

Mix Layers Thoroughly

Stir up the pile as you go, don't leave it as layers because the ingredients used weren't meant to be separated from each other rather, there were meant to be mixed. 

That's how I do it, mix them thoroughly as you are doing this, getting them all together is going to be better. 

A bunch of brown material segregated from the green material isn't going to do anything, and while you're doing this, ensure to add a little bit of water to it. 

Step 3.

Keep Layers Moist Not Wet

Mainly water the brown materials because the sawdust is dry and the cardboard is dry, so it needs to get about as wet as a wrung-out sponge.

What I try to target for my proportion is 50% green and 50% brown, which usually seems to be the best target, but don't get hung up on that. 

If you're a little too far one way or the other, you can always supplement it by just adding more green later or just turning it more frequently if you have too much green. 

As the green materials break down, it compresses itself and eventually gets to a place where there's no air and if there's no air, the bad bacteria will take over, but you don't want that to happen because that's the anaerobic bacteria taking over, it breaks stuff down but it just takes forever and it gets sludgy, mucky and it's very slow.

Step 4.

Add a Handful of Soil or Compost Then Mix

Grab a handful of compost from an old pile and throw it in, that will jump-start the good bacteria, if you don't have a compost or pile to take from, use a handful of soil from your yard or garden, it will do just the same. 

The bacteria is already there, so just putting it into your newly formed compost pile is just going to jump-start everything a little quicker. 

Its basically just layer, mix, water rinse and repeat kind of a thing, so just ensure to mix it and add a little bit of water to keep it moisturized. 

The size of the pile  I make depends entirely on the number of green materials available, so if I don't have much green materials, I don't sweat it, I add it anyways even if it's smaller. 


After about 2 days, when you turn the pile you will notice some kind of heat with steam coming out, that's the nitrogen breaking down from the bacteria. 

The bacteria basically pass gas and that's what's responsible for the heat and smoke coming out.

I used an infrared thermometer to check the temperature of the ground surrounding the pile and it was 60°F, when I turned the pile, the temperature was 131°F. That's pretty good but I know the target is 150°F but it is probably close to 150°F inside the pile. 

It is important to maintain a temperature of at least 131°F although 150°F  is the target temperature that certain organizations require before turning your compost, this is important to eliminate certain things that occur during the composting process or decomposing processes such as weed seeds and the presence of possible pathogens.

Once the compost pile has reached a temperature of 130-150°F, allow it to stand for one more week before turning it. 

This temperature is kind of like the magic number for the biology to start breaking down organic materials. 

If it doesn't reach that temperature then it's not decomposing properly and you are not eliminating the weed seeds and pathogens which may pose serious problems to your plant if not properly eliminated.

If you have more grass as green material, you really need to mix it daily because it breaks down so quickly that the grass may want to layer up on you, and when that happens, you can get it back but it's not very fun stuff to do, so just ensure to continue mixing it daily.

After about 56 days (2 months),  your compost should be ready for use in the garden but ensure to remove the visible green stuff or sticks from the pile before use in the garden.


1. Keep it simple

Keep it simple and don't be hung up on CN ratio, try to go 50/50 by volume and take it from there. You're going to learn by doing this more than anything else. 

You can read a thousand articles on this but you're not going to learn nearly as much as just going out and trying it on your own. 

Mother nature breaks down organic matter every day of the year and she doesn't care what your CN ratio is, it matters how much time it's going to take to break it down.

2. Use Plant Materials

As far as raw material is concerned, if it came from a plant it's ok to use. In general, if it's from an animal don't use it unless we're talking about shrimp shells or egg shells then it's ok.

I still need to talk a little bit more about worms, I have lots of worms in my compost, they're voracious little eaters, once whatever I have left in my compost cools off, they turn it into worm castings very quickly, probably quicker than if you don't have them. 

If you're going to use grass clippings though because a lot of you probably will, just make sure you turn it every day for the first week or two until there's really no chance of it matting up and you just want to avoid that black sludge stuff, you know, that's the dreaded cold compost that nobody wants to deal with.


1. Target 50/50 green to brown material by volume.

2. Keep a supply of excess brown material on hand.

3. Turn frequently.

4. Monitor moisture

5. Keep pile on the ground

If you received value from this article please share it with friends and leave a question or insight in the comment section below. Also, see our amazon storefront for products we use regularly in our garden.

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