rich, moist soil composted from food scraps

Compost is a type of fertilizer that is made from rotting plants. It is easy and cheap to make, as all it really requires is vegetable waste. The vegetable waste is broken down by bacteria (germs), and made into compost.

Compost bin
Raw materials for composting.

Making a compost heap


To make a compost heap, you need some space fairly far from anyone who might have a problem with the smell. The bottom corner of a garden, or some other place a distance from the house is a good place. Compost heaps should also be placed on soil, or grass: a paved yard or concrete are bad places. The compost heap should not be in a dark or closed corner.

The best base for a compost heap is a layer of sand, bricks or gravel about 1m long by 1m wide. This is not needed, but it can be a good idea. If using bricks, leave spaces to allow the air to move through. It also allows for the water to run away. The best compost heaps have lots of little spaces inside, to allow air to move around.

Once the first layer is down, one can begin adding the waste.

Some good types of waste are:

  • Vegetable/fruit peels and scraps
  • Spoiled, rotten or moldy fruit
  • Cut grass
  • Leaves
  • Straw
  • Sawdust
  • Eggshells

Adding meat scraps is a bad idea, as they rot slowly, smell bad and attract rats and other vermin. Human or pet feces is also a very bad idea, as this can transmit disease. Waste from plants that have died of disease is also bad. The disease can spread to the plants that the compost is used with.

When making a compost heap, different types of waste should be layered. A layer of cut grass can be followed by a layer of vegetable waste and table scraps.

Watering the compost heap is a good idea, especially in dry areas. The water helps encourage the waste to rot and turn into compost.

In anywhere from 3 to 6 months, the compost will be ready. The compost is ready when it smells like thick earth, with no smell of decay or rot. Of course, if you have been adding waste all this time, the compost will all be at the bottom of the heap, and will have to be dug out.

The stuff that has not rotted can be used as part of a new compost heap.

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