Start a Vegetable Compost: Beginner’s Guide

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Starting a vegetable compost is a great way to reduce your waste and improve your garden. By composting your vegetable scraps and other organic materials, you can create a nutrient-rich chemical-free fertilizer that will help your plants grow healthy and strong.

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Steps on how to start a vegetable compost:

  1. Choose a compost bin or pile. There are many different types of compost bins available, including open bins, closed bins, and tumblers. You can also build your own compost bin, like this small and simple one or these larger ones.
  2. Gather your materials. You will need a mix of brown and green materials to compost. Brown materials are high in carbon, while green materials are high in nitrogen. Some good examples of brown materials include leaves, straw, cardboard, egg shells, and wood chips. Some good examples of green materials include vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, and grass clippings.
  3. Add your materials to the compost bin or pile. Start by adding a layer of brown material to the bottom of the bin or pile. Then, add a layer of green material. Continue alternating layers of brown and green materials until the bin or pile is full.
  4. Water your compost. Your compost should be kept moist, but not soggy. Water it as needed, especially during hot weather.
  5. Turn your compost. Turning your compost helps to aerate it and speed up the decomposition process. Turn your compost every week or two, using a pitchfork or shovel.
  6. Wait for your compost to finish composting. Composting takes time, so be patient. It can take anywhere from a few months to a year for your compost to be ready to use.

Once your compost is finished composting, you can use it to fertilize, or amend, your garden soil. Compost is a great way to improve the fertility of your soil and help your vegetables, herbs, and flowers grow healthy and strong.

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Additional tips for composting vegetable scraps:

  • Avoid adding meat, dairy, or processed foods to your compost pile. These materials can attract pests and rodents.
  • If you have a lot of kitchen scraps, you can start a worm bin. Worm bins are a great way to compost food scraps in a small space.
  • If you live in a cold climate, you may need to cover your compost bin or pile during the winter. This will help to keep the compost from freezing.

Won’t the compost stink?

This is a common misconception about composting. If done right, your compost should not create a strong smell. In fact, when compost is ready to use, it should smell good- like fresh dirt or a greenhouse. If you’re does start to stink, here are a few tips: 

  • Turn your compost every 2-3 days, more often won’t allow the microbes in it to grow, less often won’t allow for oxygen flow. 
  • If it’s too wet, add more brown material (cardboard, dry leaves, sticks)
  • If it’s too dry, add more green materials (vegetable scraps, grass clippings, coffee grounds) or water

Composting is a great way to reduce your waste and improve your garden. It’s easy, relatively inexpensive, and your garden will love it! By following these simple steps, you can start composting vegetable scraps today. 

Ready to start your Kitchen Patch? Download the free Ultimate Guide to get started now!

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