Composting in Five Steps

After reading "Why Compost?" you might be wondering how the process works, and how you can start composting on your own.

Good news: The system is as simple as it is genius!

Before you put something here or here consider:

Can it be composted?

YES: These things don't belong in the trash; they should go back into the ground:

NO: These things, on the other hand, are generally not composted:

The entire composting process can be broken down into five steps:

Step One: Designate a space for compost. It should be at least the size of a trash can, and have a few holes to allow for air circulation. If you live around animal pests, keep the compost covered.

Step Two: Tear composting materials into small pieces. This speeds up the decomposition process.

Step Three: Layer your materials; wet and fresh scraps should be nested between dry, old ingredients.

Step Four:Give it time. Compost is ready when it looks dark and crumbly.

Step Five: Enjoy what is colloquially known as "black gold".

That's it. There's plenty more you can learn about composting; troubleshooting, using worms or controlled microbes, turning, heating, and so on; but those five steps are the backbone of the process. The end result is clean-smelling, black, nutrient-rich compost ready for use in the garden.