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How To Make Compost In Limited Space
Posted on : January 7, 2014


Winter is a time to start planning your garden’s future. One of the most important things you can give your soil, both containers and traditional garden space, is renewal through fresh compost. No matter your space requirements, it is possible to make your own compost. All you need is a small side yard or a balcony space. Above you see two rain barrels and a small composter sitting in my side yard.

Our food scraps and yard clippings make up a quarter of the United States’ solid landfill waste, which makes composting an important matter and gives us a way to cleanly convert kitchen and garden waste into microbe rich soil matter organically.

How to Make Your Own Compost

To compost, you will need to create a proper ratio of materials and moisture. Carbon-rich materials are called “browns,” and nitrogen-rich materials are called “greens.” Follow the simple list of browns and greens below to help guide your composting –

Examples of browns:

1. Shredded newspaper, soy print is safe.
2. Torn cotton, cardboard and paper-based towels.
3. Sweepings from the floor.
4. Grocery store bags that are made from paper.
5. Straw.
6. Grass clippings which are aged.
7. Fall leaves. Do not use foliage from diseased plants.

Examples of greens:

1. Coffee grounds (local coffee houses often provide it at no cost).
2. Fresh grass clippings.
3. Prunings from plants (not from diseased plants).
4. Pulled weeds and spent flowers.
5. Tea bags with the metal staple removed.
6. Most kitchen scraps. Completely grind items that will root, like potato skins and onions. Do not add bones or meat as it will stink and attract animals.
7. Manures. Do not use cat, dog, or human manure/feces as it could contain pathogens or diseases that might be harmful.

Compost will develop more quickly if the pile is turned frequently. Typically, it takes up to a month to create useable compost. Chopping the mix and maintaining moisture encourages quicker composting.

This season start planning now to make your own compost to help the environment and contribute to your garden. If you do not want to create your own, pick up some of The Arbor Gate’s custom blend at the nursery.

Written by Shawna Lee Coronado

Shawna Coronado is a professional writer for green lifestyle living and organic gardening. Her organic living photographs and stories have been featured both online and off in many international home and garden magazines and multiple books. You can learn more about her at http://www.shawnacoronado.com.



M C |

Was very interested in your article as I am trying to be a little more "green". Great info as to which materials to use but I didn't see anything about what the proper ratio actually is that you referred to. Thanks for your help. mc

    Shawna Coronado |

    There is no exactly perfect ratio in relationship to composting as it depends upon the particular greens or browns you add, what size they are, and how much moisture you have that determines how fast compost will decompose. My suggestion is to layer half and half. Place a layer of brown on, then a layer of green on, then water. Repeat. As time goes on you'll find that mixing regularly causes all the layers to get mixed up so that you might not remember what you added when. The answer is to improvise. Most importantly, be sure to add moisture. It really helps with the decomposition process as long as the pile is not soaking wet, but is instead damp like a sponge.