Asked on Jan 27, 2012

Starting compost bin

JuliebdSuzette TrimmerMelissa G


After buying a compost bin, what should I put in it first? Can I put the appropriate kitchen scraps in straight away? Also, can I compost Georgia red clay that I dig up from our garden?
7 answers
  • Mellissa, here is an nice article about composting and the science involved- Where did you buy one of those bins?

  • Mike and Anne
    on Jan 27, 2012

    Composters use organic materials, mostly green and dried (brown) plant materials and manures, to produce the soil amendment we call "compost." You can use ground leaves, kitchen scraps (but no meat scraps), grass clipipngs, bark, wood chips and the like.. The article Yamini mentions has some of the directions for adding the various components. It's easy to do, does not produce an unpleasant odor and reduces the need for chemical fertilizers. One of the uses of "compost" is to amend soils that are primarily Georgia (or in my case North Carolina) red clay so they will contain enough organic matter to hold water and provide nutrients for plant roots. You incorporate the organic material into the clay by tilling or double digging the area where you intend to put ornamental or food plants. You do not add the clay to the compost bin..

  • Walter Reeves
    on Jan 27, 2012

    Don't expect a compost bin to supply all the organic matter your clay soil needs. I recommend a 2" layer of organic stuff tiled 8" into clay to make good soil for plants. A bin won't supply that more soil conditioner at garden centers.

  • 3po3
    on Jan 28, 2012

    You can put the kitchen scraps straight in, but be sure to add plenty of "browns" at the same time - dried leaves, newspaper and other carbon sources.

  • Melissa G
    on Jan 29, 2012

    Thanks, everyone -- great advice. I have not bought the bin yet. In my case, I figure composting is simply a good way to use organic matter, rather than just throwing it away. The compost it produces will just be a bonus in the garden.

    • Bonny McDaniel
      on Feb 9, 2015

      @Melissa G I do add small amounts of soil to my compost bin. I use it as one of the layers along with leaves and kitchen waste which is mostly fruit, veggie, and coffee grounds and filters. I also add small amounts of garden waste such as some weeds (that have not gone to seed yet) and other 'green manure' such as grasses. I have lovely almost black compost and great plants. Good luck with yours!

  • Suzette Trimmer
    on Mar 1, 2015

    When I was working on my Horticultural degree the one A+ I received was for my compost it was actually referred to as the Champagne's of the composts my professor had come across in years. Yes, waste is my crowning glory what a humorous claim fame, when you think about it. Now as for 'how to start 'what you should start with, um so many ideas or too many. I get my compost barrels from Car washes they give them away #1. and since I am at least 60 years old I roll mine around on the ground for the shifting of materials. One important mention required is that whatever you use make sure to put/bang as many holes into your bin as possible. The reason is that it needs air flow and air circulation. I prefer to layer my compost always starting off with shredded leaves, as leave mold is one of my favorite nutrients so many overlook. Then I add like others mention ground materials for what you will be putting on top of all those dry materials. If you want it on acid side use one with lots of pine needles and as base food waste or any organic waste. You know NEVER to put in any meat or dairy, of any kind. To keep you from falling asleep if and when anyone reads this, I'll make it short and sweet. Basics, you want or anyone considering making your own compost are the following" a lot of in any compost: coffee grinds, egg shells ( no I do not microwave mine ) Banana peels, and ash from our wood burning fireplace, for the pure CARBON alone. Layered as needed. I also drain all the beer cans and bottles into when preparing for recycling each week. I also highly recommend manure cow or horse, but you have got to get some. Drive up to any stable and they will be glad to give you as much as you can handle. Now I always go one step further, because I need the best for my garden's success is based on how well my compost from winter turned out. So the extra mile I go is,' to order via mail worms from worm farms'. There is nothing better for compost then those wiggling critters swimming merrily through the waste it is their heaven and my salvation. Good luck to everyone and I really hope what I have offered information wise helps everyone. Keep those barrels rolling rolling .....

  • Juliebd
    on May 9, 2016

    I used to do this at our previous home and the results were AWESOME - like black gold! I used this rich compost soil to plant my hanging baskets - they grew beautifully! Use all fruit and veggie scraps but not seeds, (and NOT left over salad with salad dressing) Juice machine pulp (never add any oils or fat, no pet waste to your compost) (I have never used horse or cow manure - everyone has their opinion on this) Take a few minutes to chop up things like banana/orange/grapefruit peels, watermelon rinds, etc into strips 1 inch wide. Smaller pieces compost fastest. Add everything and anything that 'grew' (I would not use weed seeds) stale cereal, bread dryer lint (most lint is from cotton clothing, cotton was grown) ripped up newspaper /paper but no color print (paper is from trees that grew) used paper towels, unless cleaning chemicals were involved. ripped up cardboard egg cartons, cardboard mushroom and berry containers used coffee grounds, coffee filters, leftover coffee and beer but who wastes beer? Add woodburning fireplace /firepit ashes but not charcoal grill ashes which contain meat fat egg shells dead flowers grass clippings, fallen leaves add shovels full of dirt off the ground (not bagged potting soil) for the natural microbes that help composting get started; included worms and bugs are very helpful add worn out soil from potted plants, (but not if soil appears diseased or moldy) I used a plastic pitcher w a cover I kept next to the sink. During meal prep I dumped everything into the pitcher, added a bit of water then dumped it in the compost bin outside after dinner) I always tried to keep a good balance of everything. Keep it slightly moist, about as wet as a slightly damp sponge. Mix it up with a shovel or pitchfork 1-2 x per week to add air. If you keep a good balance and add air by mixing it, it will not be smelly. You'll have wonderful rich compost soil - my first batch took less than 3 months! All I need now is to move to my new house soon so I can get back to composting! Happy composting! Julie ~

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