Composting is a great way to reuse kitchen and yard scraps, helping you cut down on waste while providing nutrient-rich organic matter for your garden. But getting started with the process can be intimidating, especially for newbies. Whether you want to build your own bin, or simply use a heap on the side of your home, there are plenty of simple steps that you can follow. We spoke with experts to get their top tips for composting beginners.

Having the right mix of materials is essential to making successful compost. This includes both “browns”—dry, carbon-rich materials like dead leaves, twigs, and hay—and “greens,” nitrogen-rich, fresh waste, such as grass clippings and vegetable peels. To make a balanced mix, you’ll want to add three times as much brown material to greens. This will help ensure that your pile doesn’t dry out and stop the decomposition process.

It’s also important to keep your compost pile moist. “If your compost is too dry, it will not heat up,” Gough says. To keep your compost from drying out, you can spray the pile lightly with water. But you’ll need to be careful not to overdo it, as a wet compost can take too long to break down and can create an unpleasant smell.

A good place to put your compost pile is near a garden or lawn, so you can easily access it. And you’ll want to make sure that the site gets at least six hours of sunlight a day, and is close to a hose, as the pile will need regular turning to keep it from drying out.

Another important tip for beginners is to avoid putting animal products in your compost pile. “They will attract unwanted pests and add odor,” Gough explains. “And, in the worst case scenario, these items can spread disease to your plants.” This means avoiding meat, bones, fat, shit, egg shells, and branches. However, you can use a bit of shredded cloth or newspaper every once in a while to absorb excess moisture.

If you’re a compost beginner, it’s important to remember that the whole process takes time. While you can accelerate the process by turning your compost pile regularly, it will still take up to a year to finish. So be patient and have fun watching your own “black gold” grow!

To learn more about composting, we recommend visiting Planet Natural. Their website is full of information and resources, including a helpful guide on how to compost for beginners. This article will help you get started with the process by outlining the basics and explaining what to look for in a successful compost pile. They’ll even give you a list of the most popular materials to include in your compost pile, along with some of the items you should avoid. With a little patience and the right materials, you’ll soon be a pro at making your own organic fertilizer. For more daily wit and wisdom, sign up for the Almanac newsletter.

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