Sam Arnette

What is composting?

Composting is making a pile of organic matter known as green waste (leaves, food waste) and waiting for the materials to break down into humus after a period of weeks or months.

Compost in a container vs. Compost pile on dirt

Container advantages;
  • Easier to maintain in a inclosed space / doesn't spread out due to weather
  • Neater than having a pile of decomposing food in your yard

Compost pile advantages;

  • Gets straight to the source, meaning it goes straight into the dirt
  • You can make larger amounts of compost

What can go in my compost?

There are two main things you can put in your compost. Those are green things, and brown things. The green things are high in Nitrogen, while the brown things are high in Carbon. The ratio of Carbon to Nitrogen is; 25 to 30 parts carbon to 1 part nitrogen.

  • Clover
  • Alfalfa
  • Hay
  • Food waste
  • Garden waste
  • Seaweed
  • Manures


  • Ashes
  • Wood
  • Fruit waste
  • Leaves
  • Bits of newspapers
  • Peanut shells
  • Pine needles

How do I set up my compost?

Add ratios of the brown things and green things mentioned in the section above. Whenever you add more items to your compost, dig a little hole and stir in the new stuff, so it gets coated in the old material. This will help the new compost break down faster.

How do I maintain my compost?

If you notice a stench, make sure you have enough browns in the pile. Also, you can check the moisture level by grabbing a handful of the pile. The compost should feel like a wrung-out sponge. If it’s too dry, let rain even out the moisture. If it’s too wet, add a few more brown things. It can take anywhere from months to years for your compost pile to be ready.

What should the temperature of the pile be like?

As the pile decomposes, the temperature in the compost will rise. This is the energy from all the decomposing materials.

What CANNOT be used in my compost?

  • Meat products
  • Bones
  • Dead plants
  • Milk products
  • Bread products
  • Rice
  • Used personal products
  • Weeds

What living organisims can be in the compost?

  • Bacteria
  • Protozoa
  • Predatory mites
  • Worms