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Basic "Recipe" for Making a Compost Pile


  • *1-2 parts green high in nitrogen- this means grass clippings, green plant trimmings, and food scraps (all fruit and veggie scraps, grains, organic tea and coffee, and eggshells can be added; experts say not to add meat, bones, dairy products, eggs or oils )
  • *1 part brown high in carbon- this means leaves, straw, hay, wood shavings, newspaper, cardboard


  • 1. For adequate heating, it is best to make a pile that is 3 feet by 3 feet. Water should be added to keep the pile as moist as a "wrung out sponge". So keep it covered with a tarp if it's raining a lot and it's getting too wet, and water it with a hose when conditions are very dry.
  • 2. When building your pile, you should layer the greens and browns and add water to help jump start their breakdown. Then keep an eye on the moisture level and turn the contents with a pitchfork every week or two to make sure it continues to decompose evenly. The more you turn the materials over and get things stirred up, the faster it will decompose.
  • 3. If you don't have any land and/or you are looking for another way to recycle your food scraps, you can try using a worm bin. The original and best book on the subject of making compost with worms (vermiculture) is Worms Eat My Garbage: How to Set Up and Maintain a Worm Composting System by Mary Appelhof.