It all started when I saw this adorable compost bucket on World Market a while back and ordered it on a whim. Well, summer rolled around and I had my compost bucket on my kitchen counter, ready to go. It was not until that moment that I realized that I did not truly understand composting. However, being that I am a very waste-conscious, environmentally-friendly individual, I was determined to make it happen.

I will start off by saying that composting is so much more than an adorable compost bucket on your kitchen counter. Did I honestly think that kitchen scraps would miraculously turn into nutrient-dense, garden-ready fertilizer overnight? As it turns out, my adorable compost bucket serves as A) a reminder to compost my kitchen scraps, and B) a place to store said scraps until I have a chance to take them out to my actual composter.

While compost piles that cost little to no money are completely doable if you have a relatively large yard, I’m an urban gardener. My container garden is in a shared, concrete area outside of my apartment building. As such, a compost pile was completely out of the question. I was momentarily bummed until I did some research and realized that composting bins exist.

Ultimately, I went with this composting bin from Wayfair. It was under budget (by one cent, hehe) and had fantastic reviews. It has yet to disappoint, as it is relatively discrete and highly functional. I absolutely love that it has two compartments, allowing me to start a fresh pile while the other cures. Further, instead of having to manually turn my pile with a shovel, I simply spin the container several times.

So, that’s my story, and those are my tools. Now, onto the nitty-gritty.

What’s Composting?

Merrium-Webster defines compost as “a mixture that consists largely of decayed organic matter and is used for fertilizing and conditioning land,” and that’s precisely what it is. But to me, it’s so much more than that. Aside from enriching soil and, subsequently, the plants and food we grow, it’s fantastic for the environment. Why send “trash” to landfills, thereby contributing to pollution, when you can use said “trash” in a much more productive way? It’s a win-win situation. Your garden will thrive and and your ecological footprint will be reduced.

What to Compost

  • Coffee grounds and filters
  • Fruit and vegetable scrapes, peels, and rinds
  • Tea bags and tea leaves
  • Used paper napkins, paper plates (no wax coating), and paper towels
  • Plain cooked pasta and rice
  • Stale cereal, bread, and crackers
  • Olive pits and nut shells (except for walnut shells)
  • Wine corks
  • Toothpicks and bamboo skewers
  • Shells (egg and crustacean)

What Not to Compost

  • Meat and fish
  • Bone
  • Dairy products
  • Grease
  • Animal waste
  • Weeds and diseased plants/roots
  • Charcoal ash
  • Plastic and glass

How to Compost

In researching the wild world of composting, I initially became overwhelmed by the wealth of information that I encountered. There was talk of carbon-to-nitrogen ratios, specific moisture levels, narrow temperature ranges, and adequate aeration. This was not what I signed up for.

Then, I realized that all of these things were fancy talk for a few very basic principles:

  • Chop or tear your kitchen scraps into small pieces to expedite the composting process.
  • The more variety of items on the “What to Compost” list, the better.
  • Add water as needed to keep your pile moist, but not sopping wet.
  • Place your pile in direct sunlight. The more it “cooks,” the faster you will have results.
  • Turn your pile every few days to provide all layers with oxygenation.

I’d love to hear from any and all composters, whether it’s a tip, trick, or lesson learned. Happy composting! And of course, happy gardening! :)