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Roundup: 5 DIY Composting Techniques For Creating Your Own Rich, Organic Fertilizer

by on Sep 12, 2022

As a gardener and urban farmer you come to appreciate and treasure compost, or as I affectionately call it, “Black Gold”.

Composting itself is actually pretty easy and there are several methods and solutions. Whether you own a full-on farm, or live in a tiny apartment, there is no reason you can’t or shouldn’t be composting.

In a world obsessed with “greening,” it’s scary to think about how much food we throw away. A friend of mine started a small scale composting business last year by collecting food scraps from local restaurants and was able to save 111.3 tons of food waste from ending up in the dump and turned it into glorious, nitrogen rich compost. If that’s not motivation to start composting, I don’t know what is!

Here a few of the options available when composting.

Basic Composting

Basic Composting

The most straightforward way of composting involves dedicating an area, usually 25 sq. ft or so to being a compost pit, any larger and it makes it pretty difficult to aerate. You start by adding layers of organic material, usually browns (old leaves, bark, etc) followed by greens (grass cuttings and vegetable scraps) topped by soil. Continue on building the layers until it’s around 4 to 5 ft high and then turn it every 2-3 days with a fork for the first month, keeping it moist, but not wet. After the first month taper off till you’re turning once or twice a month and in 3-4 months you’ll have a soil-ready compost, less if you decide to add a commercially available compost activator. See more at Nature Hacks.

Bin Composting

Bin Composting

Also known as the “no turn” method. It’s similar to the layered method above, but the idea is you have three bins, you keep adding to the first until it’s full, then move to the next bin. While it’s the most effortless method, it’s also the longest and it can take as long as 3 years to decompose! See more at Backyard Feast

Quick Composting

If, like me, you don’t have three years to wait around you can combine the first two methods together, turning twice a week and making sure that the heap remains warm.


Trench Composting

Trenching, as discussed in our DIY garden beds post, trenching is a way of composting by digging a trench roughly 3-feet deep and filling it with compostable scraps, covering them with alternate layers of soil. Once completed leave them for 2-3months to break down and then plant your vegetables directly into the bed. See more at Good Life Garden

Worm Composting

Worm Composting

Worm Composting, and vermicomposting yield nutrient-rich castings, and probably the most fertile soil of the above methods, the downside is that it’s not as scalable as the above methods, but perfect for small gardens and apartment dwellers. Red wriggler earthworms are used to break down kitchen scraps into these castings and nutrient-rich worm tea, which can be used as an organic fertilizer. The downside is that the worms don’t have a large appetite so you can’t feed them a lot of food at once, you should also avoid all types of citrus, meat, or onions when feeding them. The plus side is that it’s also one of the least odorous methods of composting and why it’s become popular with many apartment dwellers using it to clear off kitchen scraps.

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  1. Tammara Hahs

    I was wondering if you can compost in a large garbage can. If so are the steps the same as the step in above article. that you for you time.

  2. Dima

    If i add my “clay” dirt, will that work? Won’t it eventually decompose to clay again?

  3. Matt Allison

    Hi Tamara, yes, you can composts in a bin, but you’ll need to have holes in it so that it can areate, I’d stick to using kitchen scraps, not meat, just vegetable scraps, grass cuttings etc.

    Dima, clay is not good because it will eventually get wet again and then compact.

  4. Anonymous

    Do you know how to prevent raccoons and other critters from getting into and messing up the trenches and dragging food around?

  5. Rubi Sussman

    Thanks for the tips,
    I am starting a vegetable garden,
    And i was very curious on how doing
    My own compost.

  6. peter

    WORM COMPOSTING. Ive done this for years on my alottment and now at my house garden using 4 large wheelie bins,drainage holes in the bottom plus damp  compost and everything that can decompose goes in,after 3 -4  months bin full of  lovely compost, I then move top foot of compost plus most of thev  worms into an empty  bin  and start over…

  7. Marcia

    How about Bokashi composting?? Can take almost everything from your kitchen-can do it inside & it’s quick! I’m using a 5 gallon thermos (2 actually) and they work perfectly. No smell… Great solution..

  8. gale

    Grama was old and little. Her composting was a 5 gallon bucket with holes poked in. When it neededd turnng over , she just put the lid on securely and us kids rolled it around on the lawn for a bit. 

  9. Michelle

    I bought a “worm Feast” from Western Australia which are 3 plastic tubes ( for want of a better word ) with tight twist lids ( to keep out vermin ) . You bury the tubes in the ground and only the lid is seen. Rotate putting scraps in the “holes” and the worms come and go as they please ( there’s no bottom ) and dispose of the scraps. Works well for me. 

  10. Valerie

    Another super quick method is to take your green materials and put them into a black plastic bag tie the top loosely. Put it in the sun. Flip it over the next day. Then again the third. Basically the heat causes rapid putrification, and it will be ready to mix with soil Ina few days.

  11. Mark H

    Great info.  Thanks.  My questions are: 1.  Are the commercially-available composters (rotating drum-like set-ups) effective? and 2. I have a small back yard and have limited soil to add to the composter.  How important is this extra soil? Thanks again.  Mark H.

  12. Anonymous

    Can any of these methods be used in the winter months? I know it’s cold but since it takes a long time anyway can it work?

  13. Murtaza khambati

    I want to use thermocole box for vermicomposting. How should I go about ?