How to Make Compost for Your Veggie Garden
- 1). Choose your compost bin. Some cities require that compost bins be covered, so check your local ordinances before you make your choice. You can either buy a bin intended for compost online or at your local garden store, or you can make a homemade compost pile. An easy option is to use a regular plastic garbage can as a compost heap; just be sure to drill holes in the top and sides so gasses can escape and oxygen can reach the compost.
- 2). Add organic materials. Grass clippings, weeds, dry leaves and garden clippings make great compost. Add items from the kitchen like eggshells, coffee grounds, potato peelings, apple cores and other scraps from fruits or vegetables. Do not add meat or dairy products to your compost pile. Bury food items underneath grass and other compost so your pile does not attract scavengers. Be sure to add both "green" nitrogen-rich materials, like grass, fruit and vegetable trimmings, and "brown" carbon-rich materials like dry leaves, twigs, hay and sawdust.
- 3). Check the moisture level of your compost every week. According to the California Integrated Waste Management Board, your compost should be about as moist as a wrung-out sponge. Use your hands to feel the moisture of the compost, and add water if necessary.
- 4). Turn your compost with a shovel or pitchfork a few times each month. Turning your pile will allow oxygen to reach all the compost, which will help the organic material break down.
- 5). Add more "brown" materials if your compost is not maturing properly. After six to eight weeks there should be noticeable decomposition when you turn your pile, and the compost should take on a brown color. If this is not happening, you could have too many "green" nitrogenous materials and not enough carbon. Grass clippings and kitchen scraps, two of the most common ingredients in home compost piles, are both green materials. If you don't have brown materials like dry twigs or hay available, buy some untreated wood chips or sawdust from a local garden store to mix into your compost heap.
- 6). Spread your compost in the garden when it is fully developed. Finished compost will be a uniform dark brown color, with a crumbly consistency and an earthy smell. Mix compost into the soil before planting any new vegetables, or mix it with potting soil for potted veggies. Spread extra compost like mulch around plants that are already growing to enrich the soil and yield larger, healthier vegetables.