Collecting Compost



So, you just finished cooking and you have a pile of potato peels, stems and leaves. Instead of pulling out a plastic trash bag, why not dump these food scraps into your compost bin? Composting recycles organic materials that would otherwise end up in landfills, and is used to naturally fertilize gardens and farms.

In fact, composting is catching on so much that in 2009 San Francisco, California, passed legislation that makes composting mandatory for residents. Now, the city diverts 80% of its waste from the landfill, closing in on its zero waste goal by 2020.

Even if you don't live in San Francisco, you can still compost at home. Read these tips to get started.


How to compost:

First, purchase or build a compost bin in whichever size you want to use.

Next, make sure the bin has some ventilation or air holes, otherwise microbials that thrive without air will assemble, causing an unpleasant smell. In order to successfully compost and promote the growth of microbial organisms which decay the material, allow for them their essential needs: air, water and food. Proper moisture greatly affects the microorganisms, so make sure the pile remains slightly damp but never wet.

Finally, to provide proper food, make sure that there is a good mixture of live (green) materials and dead (brown) materials.

Dump the materials in your compost bin and continue to add to the container as needed. Because the compost on the bottom of the pile is the oldest and most decayed, this should be taken out for use first. For this reason, some opt for a compost bin that tumbles with the spin of a handle to avoid unevenly decayed compost. Finished compost should resemble soil and the vast majority of the individual ingredients should not be discernable.


What to compost:

  • Grass/plant clippings
  • Weeds (be careful not to compost weeds that have seeds as to not let them spread. Dead, brown weeds are always okay to compost, however)
  • Leaves
  • Kitchen wastes (peels, teabags, coffee grounds)
  • Woodchips/sawdust



What not to compost:

  • Pet wastes
  • Meat or bones
  • Chemically treated wood
  • Pernicious weeds (such as ivy which can withstand the conditions of composting, only to spread later) 




Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Sarah Gaugler

Compose make great fertilizer that are natural and organic. I gather piles of leaves and use them for tree planting.

John Varghese

How many days will it take from green leaves to usable compost? Is it around 2 weeks? 3 months?

reverse phone lookup

That is surprising that this stuff actually contains toxins.


Great question, Coley, and the answer is YES! According to eHow, properly prepared and mixed in a balanced compost pile, pine needles can help produce valuable garden compost for soil amendment and mulching within a few months.

Read more: How to Compost Pine Needles |


I know that leaves are okay, but I live in an area with lots of pine trees. Is it possible to compost the needles that come down in the fall?

Collect all the leaves in the yard except oak leaves. Never waste the leaves that accumulate in your garden. They will make excellent garden compost if you collect them and allow them to rot down. This rule doesn’t apply to oak unless you intend to run the leaves through some type of shredder.

Nicole at EarthShare

dharr -

Pet waste actually is not good for composting in your home. They often contain toxins harmful to your family and it doesn't smell great either.

Check out this resource to find out more about how you can compost your pet's waste:



is pet waste good as organic fertilizers? am i ryt?

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear on this weblog until the author has approved them.

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In.