How to Compost


Michigan Environmental Education Curriculum
Where Does Our Garbage Go?

Location, Location, Location

Carefully choose a place for your compost pile.  You can build or purchase a bin for your compost, which may keep it looking nicer and work faster, or you can build your pile on the ground.  Make sure

  • your pile is not too close to your house or other buildings
  • your hose can reach the pile
  • your pile receives some sun and some shade during the day



Starting your compost pile

  • Use your hose to wet the area of your pile
  • Add a layer of brown waste
  • Add a layer of green waste
  • Add a layer of soil
  • Keep your pile watered so that it is about as wet as a rung out sponge
  • Add more brown waste to the top if you like

Compost is done!

When the dirt in your pile starts to look like rich soil, your compost is ready. This will probably take as little as a few weeks, but it could take up to 6 months if you use larger materials.

Maintaining your compost

In a few days, the inside temperature of your pile will become very warm. You should turn the pile with a pitchfork or shovel every few days (once a week should work) and remember to keep your pile watered.

If you look closely you should see lots of worms and other organisms - centipedes, sowbugs, mites, beetles, snails, slugs, and fungi - enjoying the nutrients in your pile!

worm in apple


If your compost pile is not getting warm, add materials, water, and aerate (turn).

If your compost pile smells, aerate it and water less.

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