What To Put In A Compost Pile To Start It Going?

Compost pile filled with materials that decompose Composting is a great way to make the most out of your food. But people often find themselves wondering where to start when building a compost pile. After some research on this topic, we found an answer that should get you started.

The following materials will provide a great mixture of brown and green ingredients to get your compost pile started on the right track:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Grains and bread
  • Coffee grounds
  • Shredded paper napkins
  • Cardboard cereal boxes
  • Coffee filters

But there's a bit more to this topic than the necessary ingredients. You need some knowledge about several other relevant issues to make sure your compost pile becomes successful. Our following sections will provide this information to help you become a composting expert.

How To Start A Compost Pile

The basics of starting a compost pile come down to understanding four crucial steps. We'll go over each one with great detail to ensure you have a better handle on what the process requires. As a result, you shouldn't have any issues getting your compost pile up and running.

1. Figure Out Where To Put It And What To Put It In

If you're a person with a large piece of land, finding the right place for your composting pile shouldn't be difficult. You can just put somewhere in the back corner of your property. In this situation, the need for a container isn't really necessary.

But people with smaller patches of land should consider using a container. This action will make sure your compost post remains tidy. People living in the city should look into getting containers, too, to make their compost pile effective as possible.

Many people find compost tumblers to be a viable container option. These tumblers are easy to move, which comes in handy during the winter months.

Aside from compost tumblers, the other containers have a similar design of trash cans. The one difference is these containers don't have a bottom. This feature allows the soil's good microbes to get into your compost pile and do their job.

If you're feeling resourceful, an old trash can with the bottom cut out could work as a container. This option is an effective way to use what's already around your house for a new purpose.

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2. Start Collecting Ingredients To Put On Your Pile

You can start by looking outside your home for weeds, old dying plant material, leaves, and garden waste. But please, make sure you don't end up picking up any poison ivy. This situation would just end up being a scratchy nightmare for you.

Once you've picked up ingredients from outside the house, it's time to gather ingredients from inside your home. We suggest putting a compost bucket under your kitchen sink or using an old container to collect your kitchen waste.

But you should avoid putting toxic materials, bones, meat, pet waste, dairy, or processed foods on the compost pile. Everything else is fair game, though, like fruits, vegetables, tea grounds, clams, crab, coffee filters, eggshells, and much more.

It's essential to take this stuff out to your compost pile daily. If you don't, the ingredients will start to decompose inside your home rather than outside. This could result in a god awful smell that nobody wants to experience.

Keeping the waste container clean between loads is another vital piece of this process. It'll go a long way in ensuring you have a productive and clean-smelling composting operation within your home.

3. The Waiting Process

Some composters might swear by all sorts of techniques and rituals that claim to speed up the composting process. But if you're new to the composting game, the one method that never fails is simply waiting. You just keep adding to the top of the pile for a few months. This waiting will result in a dark, fertile, rich compost at the bottom of the pile, and this new soil can be spread around your garden.

4. Use Your Compost

There are several ways to use compost around a property. You can spread the compost lightly onto your lawn to make it much greener than it has ever been. People find it useful to put it on their vegetable patches to make their veggies grow stronger, bigger, and healthier.

Compost can have a positive impact on your flower beds, as well. Using compost on flower beds will make them more pest-resistant and luscious than they've ever been before. If you end up having a little extra compost, it can be a lovely gift to a friend or neighbor who could benefit from its use.

Overall, compost is a powerful resource to ensure your gardens are raised in a pest-free, healthy, and attractive manner. There's simply no reason not to use it.

How Often Should I Turn The Compost Pile

There's no consensus among people who compost about when or how often you should turn the pile during decomposition. This answer will vary from pile to pile based on these following factors:

  • Brown to green ingredient mixture
  • The size of the compost pile
  • The presence of bad odors
  • How fast your ingredients are drying
  • The humidity level inside your compost heap

But if your compost pile is on the ground, can't go wrong with turning it every three days until the heap's center stops heating up. This routine should ensure that your compost pile ends up being a successful one.

Should I Keep My Compost Wet by Watering It?

In most situations, the simple answer is no. A compost pile shouldn't be wet, but rather moist. Kitchen scraps and yard clippings usually have enough moisture to get the job done. In fact, adding water might slow and cool down the composting process, which isn't what you want.

Adding some water to a pile might be helpful in drier environments, however. But please, make sure to be careful and only use enough water to moisten the pile rather than completely drench it.

What Will Make Compost Break Down Faster?

Like we mentioned previously, some gardeners will look to speed up the composting process. This action allows them to use their compost within their gardens in a more timely manner. But you'll need the right mixture of ingredients, moisture, temperature, and oxygen to speed it up. Let's look at some key factors in breaking down compost at a quicker rate.

Green Ingredients

Green ingredients inside a compost pile contain high nitrogen levels, which is required by the soil's microbes for reproduction. If your pile doesn't have a stable supply of nitrogen, these microbes won't reach high enough population levels to break down compost at a fast rate.

A compost pile with a slow composting rate that contains many dry ingredients like straw or dead leaves might require more green ingredients. Some high-nitrogen green materials include grass clippings, livestock manure, alfalfa hay, and food scraps. Adding these into your compost pile can have a great deal of impact on its composting rate.


A sufficient compost pile requires enough moisture to ensure it remains damp consistently. In other words, your compost should feel like a sponge after being wrung-out. But people who have piles with slow composting rates might find patches after poking into them.

If this happens, you must add water to help speed up the compost's breakdown process. You should turn the compost and add water whenever dry patches are found in a pile. Make sure to mix the brown and green ingredients, as well.

Brown Ingredients

But adding some water isn't always a guaranteed solution for fixing dry patches. If you notice the pile's center has patches that are squishy or the compost has an awful rotten egg smell, it has become too wet. This is problematic because excess water will deprive the microbes of much-needed oxygen.

You can fix this issue by adding and mixing in brown ingredients like sawdust, paper, straw, or fallen leaves. These ingredients will help soak up the excess water and make sure the microbes can get back to doing their job.

If your pile has a rotten-egg smell, this signals it lacks an adequate amount of carbon. This problem is solved by adding brown ingredients. These materials will help the microbes regain their energy and break down your compost at a more efficient rate.

Additional Factors

The fastest compost piles don't excel just because of the right ingredients. Several additional factors also have a significant impact on this process. One of them is the pile having the right amount of oxygen. You see, soil microorganisms require oxygen, too, which might cause you to think your pile can't ever have enough.

But this isn't the case because too much air can dry out your compost pile. As a result, you should look to turn your pile frequently to aerate it and promote a faster rate. Adding bulky brown ingredients such as wood chips or shredded newspaper is another way to aerate the pile.

The pile's overall size will have an impact, too, because oxygen won't be able to reach an oversized pile's center. On the other hand, undersized piles won't be able to heat up enough to increase decomposition. A perfect situation capable of providing faster results would be a composting pile that is 3 feet on every side.

After reading this post, nothing should be stopping you from starting your own composting pile. But if you have additional questions, make sure to leave us a comment!

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