How to Make Quality Compost

How to Make Quality Compost?


You can put almost anything in your compost! Your household waste (raw fruit and vegetable scraps, fireplace ashes, etc.) and your garden waste (dead leaves, grass clippings, etc.).

That said, some elements should be avoided at all costs when making your compost, while others will boost it. Here’s an overview.

Elements to avoid or even ban from your compost

Peelings and bark

It is strongly advised against putting in your compost:

– potato or pear peels, which can carry diseases;

– plants that can carry diseases, such as roses or fruit trees;

– Citrus peels, which contain a natural insecticide that prevents rapid decomposition;

– Weeds in your garden can grow back.

Good to know: you can eventually put your citrus peels in the bin, but only if you cut them into tiny pieces.

Animal waste

It is also not recommended to put:

– fish waste, especially bones;

– meat waste, especially bones.

This will avoid attracting small or large carnivores such as rats, cats, dogs, etc.

Elements to boost your compost


Small elements for an easy degradation

Some elements or packaging can accelerate composting:

– The smaller the items you put in, the faster the composting.

– Mowing leaves, for example, helps them decompose. Consider doing this if you want your compost to be more active.

– You can also add grass clippings to enrich your compost.

– Nettle manure accelerates the decomposition of the compost.

Note: The diversity of waste makes compost the best organic fertilizer.

Cardboard: the key to good compost

Putting pieces of cardboard between the layers of compost is very beneficial:

– Cardboard keeps the compost warm and allows for faster decomposition;

– heat is essential for the excellent development of bacteria and, therefore, for a favorable action of the compost;

– if the compost is too dry, the bacteria die, and only the fungi continue to work, which makes your compost of poor quality;

– Aeration is also an essential factor: otherwise, your composting will be slow, partial, and smelly.

Note: to check that it is sufficiently humid, plunge your hand into your compost and see if droplets appear.

There are 3 composting processes: the composter, vermicomposting, and the compost heap.

3 types of composters

The composter is the container that allows the formation of compost. Several solutions are available to you:

– The compost bin: bought in large stores, made of wood or plastic, it is probably the most economical solution for small areas. It costs about 50 dollars.

– The rotary composter allows you to make compost more quickly, about six months but remains a relatively expensive solution, more than a hundred dollars, compared to conventional composters.

– The vermicomposter allows you to create compost thanks to the intervention of worms that help decompose the waste.

Whatever the solution you choose:

– The composter must be placed on the ground to allow the composting process.

– It must be more or less open to allowing the air necessary for the compost to circulate.

– It must have an easy access opening to facilitate the waste placement.

– It must have a trap door to collect the mature compost from the bottom.

Good to know: The trap door is unnecessary if one side opens completely. Start with a 400 L composter to estimate the amount of waste you have to compost.

Choosing the right location for the composter

How to Make Quality Compost

The choice of the location of the composter is essential. Think about the practicality and aesthetics to avoid neighborhood disputes. Place the composter:

– away from bad weather,

– away from outside eyes,

– close to your house.

It is not mandatory to place it at the bottom of your garden. Placing it next to your house is more beneficial if you regularly throw away your kitchen waste.

If the compost bin you bought in the store is more valuable than aesthetic, you can always cover it with climbing plants or make a wooden compost cover with boards.

Which composter for my needs?

Choosing a composter is not easy. Some information is good to know.

– The compost bin:

o In plastic, the compost bin is generally green or black, from 400 to 600 l, recommended for surfaces of 500 m² maximum.

o In wood, the models are often made of autoclaved pine, treated in the heart of the wood to allow the structure to resist the wet and hot composting process. The capacities are also from 400 to 600 l.

– The vermicomposter is recommended for balconies or indoors because the waste is less critical.

– The rotary composter has a smaller capacity, about 100 l, but it allows to make compost more quickly.

Price of a composter

Here is a comparative table of the different prices of composters.

Compost bin

Vermicompost bin

Rotary composter


$50 to $100

$80 to $150

$100 to $300


$50 to $300

Starting at $50

What to put in a composter

What to Put In a Composter

Reducing the volume of your garbage and obtaining your fertilizer are the fundamental objectives of composting. From theory to practice, many questions arise along the way:

  • How to start a compost bin in the garden? Or vermicompost in an apartment? 
  • What waste to put in the composter daily? 
  • How to avoid odors while obtaining compost close to the bags sold in garden centers? 

This post tells you how to do it correctly.

To start with your composter.

The practice of composting is not restrictive. But like all new habits, it requires a bit of adaptation to adopt the good reflexes definitively. Some practical advice will help you get started.

The location and the installation of the composter in the garden

First of all, as far as the installation is concerned, reserve a place for it in a sufficiently shaded area and sheltered from the wind. Be sure to keep it away from the neighborhood, but install it in a place that is accessible throughout the seasons.

Your compost bin should be open at the bottom to benefit from direct contact with the soil and the micro-organisms to promote decomposition.

To begin, spread a layer of straw, wood chips, or grass clippings at the bottom of your composter that you will have previously let dry. This bed of dry waste will ensure good aeration of your compost pile.

If it is a vermicomposter

Vermicomposting: Raising Worms to Compost Your Waste

In an apartment, composting is also possible with a vermicomposter. You will have to get worms to start, but before their arrival, you must prepare an adequate litter to facilitate their installation. 

The vermicomposter is equipped with holes at the bottom of the bin to collect the compost juice. Place a piece of cardboard to cover the holes so that the worms don’t crawl in. On top of this lay small pieces of brown cardboard such as egg cartons, toilet paper rolls, and then materials such as coffee filters and grounds, brewed tea bags, potting soil, and crushed eggshells. Moisten and mix. Be careful, though; worms are susceptible to chemicals. Use only untreated waste at the risk of scaring them away or killing them.

What do we put in our composter daily?

In parallel with the food, one of the basic rules is to make varied and balanced contributions to obtain good compost. For a sound degradation of organic matter, the volume and the distribution of the various types of waste are essential.

Green” and wet waste up to 40 to 50%.

These materials are rich in nitrogen and can be recognized by their soft texture.

– Kitchen waste, such as fruit and vegetable peelings, citrus fruit and banana peels, or spoiled vegetables that you should cut into pieces for faster degradation

– You should cut coffee grounds and biodegradable paper filters into small pieces beforehand

– Tea leaves and tea bags without staples and labels, except for the synthetic fiber bags that do not degrade in the composter

– Vegetables to be left to dry beforehand to limit foul odors linked to too much humidity in the case of a substantial contribution of wilted flowers, lawn clippings, vegetable garden waste, and weeds without seeds

Brown” and dry waste up to 50 to 60%.

These rather hard materials bring the necessary balance to the compost thanks to their richness in carbon.

– Paper towels and tissues without cleaning products

– Cardboard without toxic inks and packaging labeled “OK Compost Home

– Hay and straw

– Shredded twigs, bark, and branches

– Litter for small pets, only herbivores such as rabbits or guinea pigs

– Wood shavings in small quantities

Waste to be put in your composter occasionally

– You should crush eggshells because they take a long time to decompose

– Leftovers from meals without sauces should be put in small quantities, after 3 months only, without meat or fish to avoid attracting pests

– Wood ash is rich in trace elements, mainly limestone, which will make the compost pile too alkaline for the soil micro-organisms

In theory, all organic matter decomposes. So why are some to be avoided? Simply because a bad association in the compost bin can unbalance the ecosystem and hinder the activity of detritivores.

What to put in your composter to obtain good compost?

Keeping a compost bin requires a minimum of maintenance for optimal decomposition and, in the end, an excellent fertilizer to reuse. It is necessary to regularly ensure that the contents of the composter are mixed and aerated. Air and water need to circulate to promote microbial activity.

A simple trick to speed up the decomposition of organic matter is to add sugar water with baker’s yeast or nettle manure as compost activators.

Good compost can be recognized by its dark color, fine texture, and peaty smell. To get close to the look of specialty potting soils, mix more than 50% soil into your compost.

What should I do if I have bad smells or insects in the composter?

Bad experiences with composting do happen. However, don’t be discouraged. There is a solution for every problem.

A rotten egg smell?

This inconvenience is caused when the compost is too wet and not oxygenated enough. It is then necessary to rebalance by adding brown and dry waste. Mix well and leave open when it is not raining to facilitate the evaporation of excess humidity.

An ammonia smell?

This happens when there is too much grass in the composter. You should add brown waste such as sawdust, wood chips, or dry leaves.

Gnats in your compost bin?

They may have been attracted by waste that is not recommended for composting. Open your bin and spread a layer of soil, sawdust, or leaves on top to cover.

Read more:

How Do You Make Good Compost