Easy Composting Ideas and Receipes.

Last updated : 9 March 2015

Tell us about your composting methods.

I’d love for you to share your composting, recipes, ideas and strategies here with others.  Post a comment below.

You Should Be Doing this!  You Can Make Up to $93.60 in
One Square Foot in Your Backyard.  Take a Peek.

Rule #1 about composting.

Composting doesn’t have to be a complicated, scientific, well thought out, detailed planned event.  Composting is something that you just do!  There are really no right ways to compost and no wrong ways to compost.  As long as you are piling up organic matter so it can decompose to be re-used you are doing great.

21 Plants That Are Easy to Grow and Sell Like Crazy

You don’t even have to pile it up or have a bin.  Just have a place to dump things that you’d like to decompose.  I don’t get crazy with my composting.  I just do it and give little thought to it.  However, I will share with you here the basic steps and ideas.

What should I compost?

1.  Anything organic that will rot down in a reasonable period of time.  Small tree branches, usually less than 1/2″ in diameter, use the rest for firewood or kindling wood.  Weeds, grass, clippings, trimmings from shrubs and trees.  Normally I’d say no dog or cat waste, and I will still say that today.  However, Amber found this about Dog Waste.

What is the correct carbon to nitrogen ration?

I have no idea!  But I’m sure somebody will give us all of that scientific stuff in a comment below.  But me?  I just don’t get that complicated.  Here’s my strategy.  I’ve got a bucket of weeds.  What do I do with it?  I’ll put it in the compost bin.  I raked up some grass clippings.  What should I do with it?  I’ll put it in the compost bin.  If I think I’ve put in too much really, really green stuff I’ll shovel some mulch or soil in and cover up the green stuff.  But truth be told, rarely do I even give it that much thought because . . .

It will rot.  It doesn’t need my help.  It will rot.

Technically you should have a layer of green material and a layer of brown material.  Don’t have any brown material?  Get on Craig’s list and find somebody selling bags of manure.  Yesterday somebody told they were buying bags of Alpaca manure for $1.00 a bag from somebody on Craig’s list.  Perfect!

Should you turn your compost?

Oh!  Absolutely you should turn your compost!

Do I?  No!  It just not going to happen.  Why?  Because each and everyday I wake up with a list of things to do, and even if turning the compost were on the list, other, more important things would take priority.  I compost okay?  Leave me alone about turning the pile.

1.  I’ve got a really weak back.  I am not going to use it up turning compost.  It will rot on it’s own!  That’s the only thing it knows how to do.

2.  When the bin is full I’ll chew it up using my Mantis Tiller then throw it on the potting soil pile.  There!  I turned it!  Happy now?   (sorry little cranky this morning.  I’m rushing to get to a nursery auction)

Mike’s Easy, No Turn Composting System.

Back at the old house I had a composting system.  If you want to call it that.  Okay, so I guess it was a system.
Here are some photos and a better explanation.

Here are more compost bin ideas… 23 DIY Compost Bin Ideas.

You Should Be Doing this!  You Can Make Up to $93.60 in
One Square Foot in Your Backyard.  Take a Peek.


  1. vanessa says

    I bought several compost bins, then read about an easier way. I use black trash bags filled with fall leaves, try to get the finer, filagree leaves. Throw in some dirt, coffee grounds, plant food, food scraps, and greens. Mix it up by turning the bag over several times, then poke holes in the bag, and throw in some water. Put bags in a sunny spot, preferably on the ground, so worms have access, but sometimes on a cement pad. Starting in spring, turn the bags occasionally, add water when it looks dry. No need for a pitchfork; faster, cuz you stir it like a compost tumbler; already bagged up and ready to throw in a garden cart.

  2. Lisa says

    I started composting after I got a lawn tractor with double bagger and had too much grass clippings. I just dump them in one corner of my yard, which is adjacent to the neighborhood pool. In the fall, I mow the fallen leaves, which helps mulch them and vacuum them up and layer those over the grass clippings. We also save old coffee grounds, egg shells, ends and peels from cut up veggies and fruit and put them in old coffee cans until they are full then dig a hole in the compost heap and dump the coffee can contents in there and cover it up (my dog likes to go up there and find treasures, so we try to bury it deep). In the spring, I move off most of the top covering and start filling up containers with this black gold to put in planting beds. There are tons and tons of worms, so you know that this is good stuff!

  3. Melody Harpole says

    I have chickens, I give them all my scraps. Then in the fall, I clean out their house and dump the contents on the garden.

    Grass clippings and woodchips go directly on the garden as mulch. Large plants, such as corn and tree trimmings, go to the goats.

  4. Glenna Jorgensen says

    I have a large trash can, with a lid, that I have drilled holes in that I put everything I can think into to use for compost. No animal feces, that goes somewhere else. I have a container in the kitchen that I but all coffee grounds, egg shells and other such item.
    Every so often I take this trash can/composter , before it is full and roll it around on it’s side to help mix all the things in it together. Seems to work well for me.
    I live in KY in an area of red dirt and lots of rocks and rrock formations. I have been putting my compost on hill that had no grass and now , after 4 years I am seeing grass .

  5. says

    well i start buy were do i do i want my next garden spot and i start a compost pile with hay cow nure tree leves grass clipings acorns and wala so i have gardens all over my propertyand if i run out of room i start over on the oldest pile works well for me

  6. says

    I have always composted, using vegetation such as vegetables and fruit scraps, grass clippings, egg shells, coffee grounds, tea bags. I do not use animal waste unless it comes from a vegetarian animal, like an iguana, cow, etc. Carnivores often have bacteria, viruses and parasites in their fecal material, that can be transmitted to humans.
    For example toxoplasmosis can be transmitted to humans through cat feces. This parasite can be devastating to an unborn fetus. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toxoplasmosis
    Another parasitic infection, pinworms, comes from dogs, cats and other animals. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinworm_infection
    Yet another is ascaris See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ascaris
    Let’s not forget about E Coli which can be fatal to the very young, old and immunocompromised. This bacteria is normally found in fecal material of most animals, humans and birds. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E_coli
    So in conclusion, I would recommend only clean sources for your compost pile.

  7. DIane says

    I have rabbits and chickens. I spread their manure on my garden spot. Depending on how soon I will plant, I may put the “hot” manure on a fallow spot .By the time it is OK to use it is time to plant the fall garden. Rabbit poop attracts lots of earthworms which I want.
    I have aged horse manure in the stalls that I also use.

  8. Jim says

    I use lock lid plastic barrels that I drilled holes in for composting kitchen waste. They store in a small area and I just roll them around every couple weeks to mix it up. It works good for my raised beds.

  9. Anneas says

    We are fortunate to live on a farm. We built a compost bin against the cement block wall of the milk house where the rain runs off the roof directly into the bin. The bin itself is steel fence posts pounded in the ground and discarded wood pallets wired to the posts(2 pallets each side). Fill with garden and lawn waste,annual planters dumped at end of season, pumpkins, egg shells, etc. until the bin is full. Let it cook thru the winter. In spring pull back the top layer that hasn’t rotted and use the decomposed material underneath. After taking out all the decomposed material I want, my husband takes the tractor with the front loader and piles up what’s left and we start the process over. If there is more rotted material than I can use, we move it with the loader to a separate pile for use throughout the summer. Couldn’t be easier!!!

  10. Cathy says

    We dont have a bin we just pile our clippings and kitchen waste in a corner and turn every once in a while but it works :)

  11. Penelope says

    We use a purchased, turn-able, black plastic compost bin – we’ve had it for years. We fill it with grass clipping, kitchen scraps, dried leaves and shredded news paper. It seems to be working great as we have a nice population of earth worms moving in. Most of our gardening is aquaponic as well as hydroponic so we’re using the compost only to amend soil for potatoes and onions. Very happy with the results.

  12. Jen Jones says

    Hello Mike,
    I put all veggie and fruit peelings or scraps into a pile. I take old roots from plants that have been harvested from my garden and toss them into the pile and throw dead leaves and mowed grass into the pile. Then I make a big mound and spray it down with a little bit of water every couple of days and turn it and wait to find clumps of mold growing on it and keep tossing…oh yeah and I throw dried crushed egg shells in it too!

  13. Ken says

    I put all my yard waste into my garden rows (grass clippings, leaves and small sticks. Also egg shells. I use leaves and grass clipping around my plants to keep soil moist and the weeds down. In spring I mix the composed with my garden rows to keep the planting soil enriched with the composed material. Keeping the ward waste into the garden keeps the weeds down. Very simple method. Ken

  14. judy says

    I had gotten away from composting. However, this blog has whetted my appetite to do so again. I had originally used 4 pvc pipes for corners of a make-do bin and wrapped chicken wire around it. It served well. I think i went about 4 feet square. I never thought about covering it with a top. Maybe 3 ft sq would be better with a top.

    Never used a thermometer either; just went with what nature provided. Thanks for all your info,.

  15. jamie says

    I am surprised. No one has put the ratio. I believe it is 30:1 or (30 parts Carbon: 1 part Nitrogen. Close enough. Things like grass clippings are almost the perfects ratio.

    I have my compost on an old cement pad my grandfather poured for his German Shepard’s kennel. I just leaned up some cement boards 4×8 and add dirt, grass and yard waste (excluding rocks and large sticks) and add tons of food from the house and from the nursing home I used to work at. (excluding dairy and meat). turn every 4-6weeks. I also cover it with a tarp when its a downpour. Seattle. Oh and I’ve put a massive amount of worms from the surrounding area. They multiple and are as fat as my thumb!

  16. says

    KIS… keep it simple. i put everything that will decay. I have two garden beds and plan a third and will just rotate one for composing. I use everything no branches even my dogs do do… grass clipings will keep it hot so that words fine and i water the sun will heat it up just as well and the worms and bugs will take care of it.. flip it once a quarter or once a month. KIS

  17. Mary S. says

    I have two different composting going on at the same time. First, I have a composter that I fill with yard and table scraps. I keep a bowl on my counter for the table scraps which include uneaten veggies (if no butter added to the “main” bowl), peels, fruit leftovers, egg shells, “outdated” fruits and veggies that got forgotten in the fridge, old bread, cake, cookies, left over coffee, coffee dregs from unfinished coffee (I used to add the coffee grounds and filter but now use them for growing mushrooms), water used for steaming veggies, undrunk “green drinks” (veggies and fruit blended together to make a very healthy if unpalatable sounding drink, it is actually quite tasty), tea and tea bags, sprinkle a little epsom salts over the top each time I’m going to take it to the composter (adds magnesium). I add garden cuttings (spent flowers, tomatoes gone bad, etc.) plus some dried up leaves and my shredded “personal papers”. Then I add about a gallon of water, close the composter and give it several spins, stopping halfway between every third of a turn to give everything time to drop down into the mix. I spin it a few times every day, whenever I’m in the vicinity of my garden shed. I don’t go and buy expensive starter, I add a shovel full of garden soil a couple times when I’m adding the scraps to it. If I can afford it I stop at a bait shop and get a container each of night crawlers and red worms and dump them in to help it along. I get good rich compost to plant in (I dig the planting hole deeper than necessary and put a good handfull of the compost in it, add a layer of garden soil I just dug out, put in the plant and fill it with garden soil, watering it in well. If I have any compost left after the planting, I put a handful or so around the top of each plant I’ve just put in and water again. I used to add the dregs of my late husband’s beer, but no more of that, although I do add the dregs of my soda or veggie drinks. My second composting is just a pile for yard waste. If I’ve got a scissors or pruner in my pocket I chop it a little smaller, but not necessarily. To this I add shredded newspaper (black ink print only, no colors and DEFINITELY none of the shiny pages). Between each layer I hose it down, add the next layer, hose it down, etc. When I’ve run out of materials for the moment, I throw an old piece of carpeting over the pile and let it cook (gets hot enough my dog used to lay on it when it was below freezing when I lived up north). As I gather more garden waste while cleaning up around some plants as they are finishing their cycle, I stack them up, keep them damp and add them to the pile after a while, maybe once month. It’s a longer method, but the compost this way is fabulous. I collect fallen apples and other fruits from my willing neighbors (if you’ll pick them up you can have them) and add them each time I’m adding another batch of garden cleanup. Each time I add ingredients to this do-it-for-me pile, I throw a couple of shovels of dirt on top and another layer of shredded newspaper and again wet it all down. Just like with the composter if I can afford it I add some night crawlers and red worms to this pile before throwing on the dirt. Next spring you’ve got the most fertile compost with the least amount of work, plus diligent worms to keep your soil softened and fertile with their castings. I replace the carpet each time I get done wetting down the pile. I keep both the composter and the compost piles in full sun for the ambient heat. No turning, just let it go under the carpet and it’s ready by spring.

  18. Chris says

    I am a veteran, disabled, a gardener living south of Mike in Northeast Ohio and a very lazy composter. I have a pile I have been working for years. I piled up yard waste, dirt, grass, weeds and added good organic kitchen waste. I turn my pile a little bit when I add more from the kitchen but other then that, nature takes it’s course. I have the greatest tomatoes, potatoes and corn from my pile and I just keep adding to it. I use more then I can produce but nature is your best friend. Turn your pile a little when you add, let the rain water your pile and enjoy it, don’t be a slave to it. So what if there is a few chunks, it will be a welcome surprise in your garden later in the year. Last year I grew the greatest potatoes and tomatoes by accident. Don’t kill yourself, recycle your veggies and you will be rewarded. Composting should be like gardening, it’s not work, it’s relaxing.

  19. Karen B says

    I have five hoop coops for the chickens roughly 8’x9′. They are put on a foundation of straw bales for winter with more loose straw in the middle, more added as it gets soiled. By spring when the birds can go out on pasture, the straw pack is almost as high as the bale sides. I also have several horses and do the same with their shelter bedding. I build a huge compost pile out of it all — 3 tons of straw (could have used another ton) plus all the manure from 12 tons of hay and the chicken feed. I may use the foundation bales for a straw bale garden this year.

  20. says

    Mike I havent really ben composting I just trow everithing to the chicken and I put straw or hay in their nesting boxes every so often I shovel it out into the garden plot other wise I’ve put steer manuer down when I turn the ground over. I really would like to help people to make money using a natural supplement go to robinfenn . vemma . com. You will need to type this in with no spaces then people will have better health, energy, and finances to buy your system and to be on your support forum.

  21. Debbieg says

    Hi Mike, I have just started composting this winter. I have been storing all my kitchen waste in 5 gal. buckets w/lids outside, I have 8 now. It is just getting warm enough to make a compost bin to layer the waste with leaves and grass. I have checked the buckets and everything looks good. I was surprised as to how much waste my husband and I had but it sure cut down on the trash hauling.

  22. tony w says

    I go around to restaurants and get their vegetable prep left overs and put them in my red wriggler bin. Them suckers can eat.

  23. Alicia says

    I started a compost pile probably close to two yearsago.All the kitchen scraps from fruits and veggies plus egg shells go in there, sometimes some brown paper bags or brown potato bags, dry leaves, garden clippings, dead flowers and plants. Almost everything is organic (USDA organic seal). I thought I was doing a good job but I do not see decompossing, and I’m doing just as you are Mike! not turning it! We’ve had a very cold and snowy winter and rains a lot around here when not snowing, spring and summer, so I do not see any ‘compost’ per se, although the pile is very well ventilated, and in the midst of summer some trees offer their shade over it,
    from time to time I go and sniff and doesn’t smell bad… which is my concern… Am I doing the right thing? How long should we keep a compost pile before we can use the product from it? Thank You Mike! I love your information!

    • Bil Ward says

      I live in a very dry, cool climate; high desert(not the best for composting.) I put my pile in the sunniest spot in my yard (composting is a “hot” process.) This dries the pile out, so I have to WATER MY PILE when I water the yard. I also do vermicomposting (worm bins, see my post). So, my suggestion is to make sure your pile is hot and moist. You might also want to check out the book “Old Time Gardening Wisdom”, for a recipe for a compost pile starter to get the necessary microorganisms started growing.

    • Anonymous says

      I live on the Oregon Coast. All I do is pile up everything vegetative that I have and add to it for 6 to 8 months or so. Cover with black plastic and let it be. Voila, come the following spring I have wonderful compost. By the way that pile is in a mostly shaded spot and never turned.
      Folks try to make composting way to complicated.

  24. Doug T says

    I have conditioned my family to save all food scraps minus meat, fats, processed food into a large coffee can that gets emptied every other day (there’s 10 of us) into either a large trash bin or a hole in the ground. As often as possible I dump yard clippings and tree trimmings into the mix, but not in any ratio or order. I also use waste from a desert tortoise and a rabbit that eat only natural food. I’m pretty sure the piles get to 165 with the help of the desert sun! What is composting now will be next year’s fertilizer when I turn the garden in the fall/winter. That’s about as easy as it gets! All the Geckos and hummingbirds love the insects it attracts, too!

    • Dee Dee says

      I live in the desert also,I’ve been trying to compost for a while but it seem to take a lot of continual water with the sand and lack of humidity. It just doesn’t seem to work well. So I tried using a plastic garbage can add scrapes coffee grounds, and water give it a stir, then I noticed the cute little ground squarrles were jumping in and getting trapped in and left to die. Any ideas?

      • Genie says

        If using a garbage can, keep the lid on it to keep the critters out. Mine has small holes drilled all over it for air circualtion.

  25. Bob Donker says

    We compost all left over greens in a compost pail under the counter, and when full take it out side to a large compost container.
    Every time we empty out kitchen container, we spread some dirt over it and once a month some fertilizer for good measure.
    Come spring all of this gets spread over the garden and rototilled in.

  26. enuffsaid says

    I have two old garbage cans, plastic. For some holidays I sell roses and other floral arrangements from live plants. So far, not from what I’ve grown. I haven’t tried growing any roses yet, but I hear they do well in Tucson. At any rate, I have been taking the leftovers of filler plants wax flowers, baby’s breath and the leftover roses and cutting them into pieces with my clippers on the stems. The stems I cut into two or 3 inch pieces and make a layer out of them. Then I shovel a layer of dirt, just enough to cover the plant material. I also have an empty coffee can and an empty large margarine tub that sets outside the door on top of an outside refrigerator. I fill these up with old coffee grounds, vegetable pairings and peels, and peels from my little cuties (the little tangerines with no seeds) and any other organic things from the cooking. I do not put meat, bones, fat or oil in the compost. I put a layer of dirt, just enough to cover the scraps. When the garbage can is half full, I just shovel it into the bottom of the next garbage can. Then I start layering again over the top of that half in the same garbage can. When that garbage can is full, I shovel half of it, the top half, into the second garbage can, which should be empty until I put this half in it. The half that is in the other garbage can is now ready for use. I take the other garbage can, which I have left half of the compost in and start layering again. This might sound complicated but it’s really just shoveling back and forth between the two cans. Sometimes the whole garbage can is ready for compost use. I have also started using the fig leaves that fall off in the fall as an alternating layer with the dirt. So a layer of scraps from the kitchen, a layer of fig leaves, a layer of dead flowers, the layer of dirt, and repeat until that garbage can is half full. Then turn it into the empty garbage can and keep layering until the can is full. Then turn half of that in to the garbage can you emptied and keep layering that one. The half that is left in the other garbage can may now be used as mulch, soil or whatever you want to use it as. It’s a lot easier than it sounds. Just give it a try.

    • Ranga says

      Reading your blog started me thinking. I had a broken plastic mailbox (the lid is not functional) that I was reluctant to throw away. I will now start using this to dispose off kitchen waste. May be I will find another one like this and then I can use your approach to alternate between them. Thanks

  27. Janet Talmadge says

    I work in Engineering field and we have lots of coffee drinkers here, so I put a 1 gallon bucket out everyday for a couple of weeks with a sign saying ” please deposit the coffee grounds and filters for my compost bin” at one of the kitchen area’s and sure enough it is full everyday . I also get the shredded paper from the large shredder a couple of times a month to put in my compost bin as well. I just want to say I just purchased Mike’s gardening package and I want to say…thank you I have truly enjoyed watching and reading your wealth of information. I moved last year on 2 1/2 acres in Conroe TX and I have already stated my vegatable garden and so I take the left overs from harvesting and the scrape indoor to my compost tumbler and put this along with horse manure i get from a friends farm…..beside leaves from the many trees we have as well.

    Thanks Mike…
    Keep up the good work!

    • says

      Thank Janet, great ideas! Conroe, Texas huh. I’ve been there. Duston used to live in Spring and Willis and I always thought it was the perfect area for a backyard nursery because Houston is encroaching on the rural areas and it appears that some of the zoning in out lying areas is more relaxed. That’s a good thing, because those who get started now are grandfathered in and have little to worry about. Or at least should be!

  28. Paul Crowe says

    I have several compost bins [8] each is 4.8m x 2.4m x 1.8
    [15’9″ x 7’10” x 5’10”] each has a 16″ layer of green material leaves brassica and the top of root crops + any surplus crops 16″ of straw or bracken and 2″ of Poultry manure then repeated twice left for 6 weeks and then turned by throwing it into empty bin next to it and left for another 4-5 weeks at which time it is sieved through a 6mm [1/4″] mesh and used.

  29. David Hodge says

    I live in the high desert and have either sandy soil or clay. I take grass cuttings from my son-in-law and vegie waste from the kitchen and put them in a rotating composter I have.

  30. Judith Vandermeer says

    We have horses, so we compost the manure and shavings in a huge pile. My husband turns it from time to time with the front end loader. Since our compost pile is where the horses can get access to it, we cannot compost fruit or veggis (besides that, the left over fruit and veggies are fed to the chickens and they recycle them into eggs).

  31. Andi (UK) says

    I blend all of my food waste in my Vitamix blender and then just pour it onto my plants and flower beds instant liquid fertiliser

    • Cathy Beville says

      My Mom taught me that trick years ago, but you are the first person I have heard that uses it besides myself. I call it “Granny’s Tonic” and it has saved many of my trees and shrubs! Instant plant food!

  32. casey says

    Kitchen waste, coffee grounds from shop near by, overgrown grasses and turn. It is not the most efficient method, but it is easy and requires little effort. I mulch the garden beds with grasses that i don’t want. i let my grasses grow tall, then use as mulch and compost.

  33. pete says

    all kitchen scraps (no meat, oil, or fat) goes to the pile behind the shed. along with chicken poop from our chickens. i turn the pile as often as i can… i try to do this at least weekly. plus, i put a can of coke and a can of beer in a hose end sprayer and wet the pile with this. it feeds and activates the bacteria that help break down organic material so it breaks down in half the time.

  34. Keith says

    I keep a quart butter bowl to put raw vegetable parings from a week full of cooking then take to my compost pile, dig a hole, pour, then layer cow manure/soil mix over this…dark rich compost results ! Will report on success after this growing season. Have a blessed day !

  35. Nancy Lenk says

    I just started composting. I have a corner in the yard where I dump some leaves, throw some coffee grounds and left over vegetable and fruit peels and ends

  36. Rick Miller says

    Where I get my big boost in compost is in the fall. I get in touch with mulch dealers or those that deliver mulch in bulk and buy their fines, or the older compost setting around their yard. Many times they will have some small quantities of miss match colors or some mulch that already breaking down. They would not be able to sell this type of material the following year, so we are doing them a favor helping them clean their yards. Last year I was directed to a company that makes the mulch. They had about 60 cubic yards of fines from their screenings. They offered a great deal and delivered it free just to get rid of it. I also have some local farmers who have old straw or hay that they can not sell for livestock feed. They bring that to me or I pay them to bring it to me. It goes in a stack, mixed up. I throw some fertilizer on the stack as I build it up to help break it down. It is good stuff after a year or two.

  37. J. M. Biesche says

    Hi, Mike. I use the old farmer’s method. Dig a trench and pile the dirt on one side. Fill the trench with compostable materials, adding a shovel full of the dirt every so often. When the trench is half full, dig a new trench next to it and pile the new dirt on the old trench, and repeat. No muss, no fuss, great compost. Love your blog.

    • Belinda says

      I do the same spring, summer, and fall, but in winter the ground is frozen too hard to work. That’s when my raked leaves go to work. In the fall, I fill black plastic bags half full of leaves, add a couple of shovels of garden soil, and tie the top loosely. Then when my kitchen compost container is full, I add that and flip the bag over a few times to mix. By spring it’s half way to compost.

      I also stack the bags on the north side of my covered rows of winter greens–helps keep them a little warmer!

  38. suzanne says

    Check with your local library..when they ‘weed out’ old magazines & newspapers many times they will give them away so they don’t go into a dumpster. Recycling doesn’t want slick paper but they will decompose eventually. The thickness of the magazine makes a good base or liner for the compost bin. I overlap the magazines slightly or lay them end to end with a second overlapping layer—depending upon how many I receive. Works for me!

    • says

      not so on the magazines. All newspaper print that is black is made with a soy based ink that is safe. Magazines and slick colored newspaper ads are often made with the old style ink which can be toxic to the soil.

      • says

        What a lot of great ideas~! I do vermicomposting, using red wriggler worms. They have been found to be the best worm for composting.I dump my kitchen scraps into a bucket (no meat or processed foods)and feed the worms their organic meals. This cuts way down on “garbage” and the return is beautiful black compost, FULL of micro-organisms that adjust the soil to a perfect balance. Worm bins can be purchased at our website, or you can make one if you have the right non-toxic materials. Never use newspaper in composting, because of the toxicity of the ink & the clay base in the paper. For more on Vermicomposting, check out the website at Laverme’s Worms! We have worm juice full of microorganisms for sale, too!

    • jason says

      sorry to disagree, but you really don’t want to compost slick paper. It has chemicals in it that will leach into your compost, soil and any food that’s grown in that soil. It’s mostly unharmful stuff, but there are heavy metals in there that are not good for you. It is good, however, for wiping car windows and what not with after you wash it. It leaves the shine on the window. I hope this helps.

  39. Neil O'Donnell says

    By the way, I think composting tax returns is a great idea. Can I go ahead and do my current one?

      • Robert Fortner says

        Hi Mike.I would like to tell you about the process in breaking down compost fast..All the commercial stuff you can buy, “expensive too”. If you read active ingredients you will see the main one in all of them is Lacto-Bacillus.I make my own,it’s very easy.heres how. You can capture these microbes from the air but thats to long of a story. Easier for you to buy a small bottle of the stuff.then use that as a starter .Take a gallon of Milk,”Lacto”.Put a little of the starter in the milk.cover with a cloth,set it in the closet somewhere.It will start to sour a bit and soon the top layer will be like cheese sorta.The liquid under that is the pure lacto-bacillus.Siphon it out into a container.will last about a year refrigerated.Countries that down have refridgeration add an equal part of mollasses to if and shelf life is up to 3 years.Anyways a couple ounces of this stuff into 5 gallons of water is far more powerfull than the stuff you can buy.Spray it on compost or on wet areas in chicken house ,barns areas what ever it will eat up bad microbes and kill smells,Its also used a lot around old septic tank area.If you can grow plants,then you can grow Microbes Mike,Give it a try.

        • Stephanie says

          Is this the same stuff (Lacto-Bacillus) that is the live culture in Yogurt?
          Is this in the probiotics they sell as well?
          I’ve made my own yogurt.. would the yogurt culture do the same thing to the milk mix concentrate as you discribe? :O)

    • Ranga says

      Bet Washington DC is generating a big pile of compost :-)
      BTW, my neighbor dumps a lot of newspapers at my door step some of which I use for house cleaning (yes wiping counters, anything glass etc). I want to compost them. What is the most practical way to shred them, with the least energy possible?

      Also, I always discard egg yolk. I throw it in the compost pile. Is this bad?

      I do not bag lawn clippings. I cut about top 1″ or less and leave it on the grass. Any comments?

      • Rick says

        To easily shred newspapers and other paper without using a lot of energy, just soak it under water in a deep bin or old tub for a few days (you can also use urine, straight or diluted). Its ready when the mix turns into a slurry with just a stirring stick. Then pour it out on your compost pile, making sure to add enough nitrogen (green stuff) to balance all the carbon (brown stuff) in the newspaper… Unless… you use urine which contains enough nitrogen (and phosphorus and other minerals). You can also dilute urine with 10 parts of water and put it directly on your garden.

        Here are some simple Compost Rules:
        1) If the compost smells like ammonia – you have too much nitrogen (green stuff)… mix in carbon (brown stuff) – sawdust, paper, brown leaves. Always better to err on the side of a little extra carbon – the pile won’t compost down as fast but it will work eventually. Even a pile of pure sawdust will rot — but it could take years.
        2) If not much happens for a long time the pile is either too dry or has too much carbon… add nitrogen (green stuff) like fresh grass clippings, hair, urine, manure. (btw, manure is ‘green stuff’ it has a low carbon to nitrogen ratio… lots of nitrogen.) And if it’s too dry, thats obvious… water it – give it a good soaking, the little ones like to swim!
        3) If the pile smells like rotten eggs or marsh gas its too wet and/or doesn’t have enough oxygen… stir it up. Its gone anaerobic (low oxygen). Tightly packed wet grass clippings can do this sometimes. Add some rough stuff like leaves to fluff it up.
        4) Compost needs sufficient air, water, carbon & nitrogen (in about a 25 to 1 ratio, but it doesn’t have to be exact), microorganisms (add some ‘dirt’), and the right temperature range.

        And now to answer your specific question Mike…

        “Why should we make and use compost?”

        Most plants need their nutrients to be in a broken down state known chemically as the ‘inorganic form’ – which isn’t the opposite of the common term ‘organic’. It just means that the complex nutrients in organic matter have to be broken down into simpler forms that plant roots can absorb. That’s what happens in a compost heap.

        Plants exude up to 50% of the energy they get from the sun — out through their roots! Why? To feed the bacteria and archaea which, in turn, feed the protozoa, which have inefficient digestive systems that ‘poop’ out nutrients in the form that plants can use. Protozoa such as amoeba, flagellates and ciliates also provide a nutrient bank which is slowly released as they die. Special kinds of fungi also form essential relationships with plants, particularly conifers. In these exchanges plants get the full array of nutrients of their ecological niche, which depends on the mineral content of the parent rock, which forms the soil.

        Think about it – no one fertilizes a forest, yet it is lush and green and beautiful. It is all the organisms down in the soil, the ‘web of life’ that makes it all possible. When we use artificial fertilizers plants simply stop exuding those special root juices (they get ‘lazy’) and then the bacteria and archaea die. Then the soil washes and erodes away because the ‘glue’ -the microorganisms- simply aren’t there in sufficient numbers to hold the soil particles together. It is the organic matter content and microorganisms that give soil a good ‘crumb’ texture.

        Herbicides and pesticides also kill microorganisms and eventually ‘hook’ the gardener — then the soil gets sick or dies and only artificial life support enables anything to grow, test tube style… however weakly and susceptible to insects and disease… which usually inspires more toxic, expensive spraying, etc., etc. Hooked. Chemical addiction. Sick. Low in nutrition as human food too!

        Anyway, Mike, that’s sort of a ‘back of the envelope’ summary on why we should make and use compost — it inoculates the soil with microorganisms and feeds them. It helps the gardener keep the soil alive. The safe, natural, inexpensive, organic way. OK, I’m running out of electronic ink. Hope that helps. Goodbye for now, Rick.

      • jason says

        It doesn’t seem that DC is capable of setting up a compost pile. The stuff just gets flung nation wide and stinks.
        If you want to shred your paper, the most efficient way is probably a paper shredder. Make sure you mix it well. Too much paper, especially shredded paper, can gum up the works. You have to balance the carbon with nitrogen from another source. The way I’d use is to use it in layers in a compost pile. That or, if you have lots of creative energy and some time, puree it and press it into large sheets of thick paper on some window screen.
        I’ve never had problems with the whole broken eggs that I throw on our compost pile. But they are a very small part of our compost. They might attract critters to your pile though.
        Regarding grass clippings left on the lawn, I don’t think it hurts it much if you leave it to break down there. If you need nitrogen material for your compost pile (or to mulch with) it may be worth it to bag it as you mow. or to get lots of exercise raking.
        I hope this helps.

        • jason says

          sorry, I should have clarified with the pressed paper thing, you would use that end product as a mulch to keep weeds down or to prepare a bed. Put the paper down and than put some nitrogen stuff down on top of that lasagna gardening style.

    • SherryM says

      You must keep your tax information for 7 years. that’s in Canada anyway.

      I used cardboard to make a new garden bed many years ago and the area still seldom gets weeks..

      My neighbour pays for large compost bin which is picked up every few weeks…and they leave a bag of compost when they pick up.

  40. Neil O'Donnell says

    I am new to all of this so I am just following your rules with compost. I will know a little more about it as time goes on.

  41. says

    I use a Compost Tumbler when the weather is consistantly above 40 deg. F. 2 weeks and you have a load ready. Other times of the year I just put grass and other clippings on a pile and use them to cover up garbage (no animal products or dirt). That takes a lot longer, but this Spring I had a nice pile – no turning – to use in my pots and beds.

  42. Lee says

    I’m like you Mike I put very little effort into composting but, I do it that’s what matters. I built a nice big bin to hold everything. I throw my yard clippings in mostly just leaves. I also toss in appropriate food scraps (nothing processed, dairy or meat) mostly banana peels and coffee grounds. The one thing I do not put in is the weeds from weeding my flower beds. I live in FL the weeds are miserable here I want to limit the possibility of spreading them. I would say I probably don’t turn mine nearly enough but, like you said it breaks down either way maybe just a little slower for me. When I’m ready to use it, I sift out the big pieces and toss them back in the compost and only use the small pieces.

  43. Sandy says

    My compost bin was just a pile in a ditch, I would dump grass clippings, leaves etc there, turn it if I had time or took the time.
    Then last year we made a barrel compost bin!! I put every thing in scraps from the house, egg shells, potato peels etc in a bucket under the sink and dumped it when it was full. I put grass clippings, leaves etc in it, turned it whenever we were in the area. I never put sticks in it or dirt! Last fall I got a wheel barrow full of black gold!! More enthused about it now!! But we don’t worry about turning it or putting dirt or manure in it, because we don’t have that stuff available very easily! Take it when I get it!!
    Easy way out!!

  44. says

    I raise grass fed beef. In the winter they have access to a cattle shed open to the south up on a sloping mound (this keeps the bedding from getting wet on top but moist underneath). The bedding by spring is a deep accumulation of manure, urine, corn stalks, wood shavings and hay.

    During the summer I leave this mixture in the cattle shed. For some reason there are few flies and the cattle during the summer (although they spend most of the day in the pastures) will shelter from the flies and their hoofs will stir the bedding and keep it moist underneath with additional urine. By fall this bedding turns into a nice compost without any labor on our part. We do have natural fly control in the pastures with flocks of cowbirds, but on hot afternoons the birds head for shelter and the cattle head for the cattle shed. Before winter the shed is cleaned out and put on a pile outside for use the next spring on farmers market garden beds. Any additional breakdown of the pile occurs over winter.

  45. Bob Comko says

    Under the Tomatoes…….
    My yard is mostly clay soil. I recently was building another raised bed and was looking for old newspaper or cardboard to layer in the bottom of the raised bed and came up with this.. I found a bunch of old tax returns and decided they would make the perfect cover for the bottom of the raised bed. I figure if the IRS should ask me where are my tax returns from ten years ago I would simply reply ….under the tomatoes.

    • NJLeoOH says

      I was going to say, as Mike said, I just dig a hole and drop in the kitchen waste amidst my leaves and sticks and other yard, non weed waste and I have the best dirt and worms ever but you take the cake with your response!

    • Adriana says

      That is funny. I have a question though. I was uner the impression that adding weeds to your compost was not a good idea because then you would be spreading their seeds to where ever you use your compost. Any thoughts?

      • says


        Weed seeds have no problem getting around whether your help them or not. The wind blows them everywhere so whether or not you add weeds to your compost pile you’ll have plenty of weed seed in the pile anyway.

        • Morgan Homestead says

          I have composted tons of weeds (the real big nasty ones) and i have not had any problem with weeds using the compost. If you pick a weed, throw it in your compost pile.

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