DIY Composting for Beginners: How to Turn Your Food Scraps into Nutrient-Rich Soil

Are you tired of throwing away your food scraps, only to contribute to the ever-growing waste problem? Or maybe you’re a gardener looking for a more sustainable way to nourish your plants? Whatever the reason, composting is a great solution.

Composting is the process of breaking down organic materials, such as food scraps and yard waste, into nutrient-rich soil. Not only does it reduce waste, but it also creates a natural fertilizer for your garden.

In this article, we’ll guide you through the basics of DIY composting, from setting up your compost bin to maintaining it properly. Let’s get started!

Setting Up Your Compost Bin

Before you start composting, you’ll need to decide on a compost bin. There are many options available, from DIY bins made from pallets to store-bought tumblers. Consider the size of your household and how much waste you produce when choosing a bin.

Once you have your bin, place it in a location that is easily accessible and receives a good amount of sunlight. This will help speed up the composting process.

What to Compost

Not all organic materials are suitable for composting. Avoid adding meat, dairy, and oily foods, as they can attract pests and slow down the composting process. Stick to plant-based materials, such as:

  • Fruit and vegetable scraps
  • Coffee grounds and filters
  • Tea bags
  • Eggshells
  • Grass clippings
  • Leaves
  • Shredded newspaper

Chop up larger materials, such as branches and corn cobs, into smaller pieces to help them decompose faster.

Maintaining Your Compost Bin

Composting is a slow process that requires some maintenance to keep it working properly. Here are some tips to help you maintain your compost bin:

  • Add a balance of “green” and “brown” materials. “Green” materials, such as fruit and vegetable scraps, provide nitrogen, while “brown” materials, such as leaves and shredded newspaper, provide carbon. Aim for a ratio of 2:1 brown to green.
  • Keep your compost moist, but not soggy. Water it regularly to ensure the materials are breaking down properly.
  • Turn your compost regularly to aerate it and speed up the process. Use a pitchfork or shovel to mix the materials.
  • Avoid adding weeds or diseased plants to your compost bin, as they can spread throughout your garden.

Troubleshooting Your Compost Bin

If your compost bin isn’t working as expected, here are some common issues and how to fix them:

  • Smells bad: Your compost bin may be too wet or have too much green material. Add more brown material and turn the compost to aerate it.
  • Not breaking down: You may not have enough green material or your compost bin may be too dry. Add more green material and water it regularly.
  • Attracting pests: Avoid adding meat, dairy, and oily foods, as they can attract pests. Cover your compost bin to keep pests out.

Harvesting Your Compost

After several months, your compost should be ready to use. It should be dark brown and crumbly, with a pleasant earthy smell. Harvest your compost by sifting it through a mesh screen to remove any large pieces.

Use your compost to nourish your plants and garden beds. It’s a natural fertilizer that will help your plants thrive.


Composting is a simple and effective way to reduce waste and create nutrient-rich soil for your garden. By following these tips, you can set up and maintain your own compost bin with ease. Happy composting!