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How To Make Great Compost For A Great Garden – Episode 104

Here is a look at this week’s show, How To Make Great Compost For A Great Garden.

Below you will also find our show notes along with reference and product links from the article. You can check out all of our past episodes on the website, here at : ALL EPISODES



Show Outline / Show Notes – How To Make Great Compost For A Great Garden


Why Compost ?

Compost is an amazing organic powerhouse of nutrients. Nutrients that help to keep soil loose, workable, and most importantly, completely energized.


  • Full of nutrients
  • Helps soil retain moisture
  • Recharge tired soil

Where To Use Compost

  • Planting
  • Mulch
  • Potting Soil
  • Hanging baskets
  • Potted plants, container gardens
  • Compost Tea

The Basics – Important Things To Consider

Everything eventually turns into compost

Don’t get so caught up in the mixtures/ formulas etc.

What To Compost In

There are some good options available for purchase, but you can also make a bin from nearly any material. Old wooden stakes, chicken wire, fencing boards and even blocks or brick work well.

Issues with plastic barrels and tumblers:

Become easily water-logged. Not large enough to really heat up.

Large enough pile to work – we will cover this later in the episode – but to really work a pile needs to use the 3 x 3 x 3 rule

Consider animals, pets, etc for covering or not


#1 ) Getting The Right Mix Of Materials

To get the most from a compost pile, it takes a proper balance of Brown (Carbon) and Green (Nitrogen) materials. It can all sound intimidating, but it’s actually quite simple.

Compost doesn’t need to be difficult or confusing – remember, it will all compost eventually.

Brown materials consist of leaves, straw, wood shavings, dead grass, small twigs, etc.

Greens on the other hand are materials like vegetable peels, coffee grounds, green grass and plant clippings.

Greens can also be animal by-products such as chicken and rabbit manures. They are the “fuel” that gets the pile cooking!

What should the ratio of browns to greens be?

1 Part Green for Every 4 Parts Brown

Example : 4 buckets of shredded leaves, then a bucket of vegetable peels or fresh green grass needs to go in to balance it out.

Doesn’t have to be all at once. 

#2 ) Where To Get Compost Materials For Free

  • Local coffee shops
  • Breakfast shops
  • Neighbors, friends, etc.
  • Leaves  – the ultimate free compost material (avoid black walnut and eucalyptus as they contain natural herbicides that will prevent growth) Also limit oak, beech and sweet chestnut leaves 

# 3 ) What Not To Put In Your Compost Pile

It’s also important to know what not to put in your pile.

Meat is a big no-no. It attracts rats, mice, raccoons and other unwanted animals, and can lead to foul smelling piles.

In addition – refrain from using dog or cat manure as it can contaminate your pile.

Don’t use diseased plants or plant material, tomato plants, or fruit with a ton of seeds

Question of the Week: Margaret from North Carolina. 

I have always wanted to make compost in my small backyard. However, I am worried about the smell. I like to work outside in my flowerbeds and I don’t want the compost smell to be overwhelming. How can I prevent this from happening?

ANSWER : A good pile that is turned often will not smell at all. In addition, avoid placing in meats,oils and fatty substances that will cause odor.

# 4) Right Sized Pile

If a pile is too small, the materials never “heats up” enough to decompose quickly. 

And if it is too big, it becomes difficult to turn and mix. As you will see in the next tip, that turning and mixing is a big part of a successful pile.

For best results, a pile or bin between 3′ x 3′ x 3′high, to 5′ x 5′ x 3′ high works best. It allows for a pile big enough to have thermal heat, but not so big that it’s hard to turn.

# 5 ) How To Make Compost Fast – The Real Secrets To Success

Chop / Shred Ingredients

There is no need to buy expensive shredders or grinders. A simple run-over with the lawnmower can shred leaves or straw.

The finer the chop – the quicker you will have compost

Turn The Pile Often

Turning adds oxygen to the pile

1 turn a week minimum, a few times a week even better.

Keep The Pile Moist

Last, but certainly not least, it is vital to keep the pile moist.

In addition to oxygen, compost needs water to keep it cooking. A good pile should feel like a slightly damp sponge.

Using A 2 or 3 Bin System

  • Benefits of two piles / 2 bin system and 3 bin system
  • 2 bin is easier to fit in most spaces
  • 3 bins are amazing, but not everyone can compost that much
  • 2 bin – 1 finishing / finished – 1 starting


  • Everything will eventually decompose
  • Ratio of 4 parts brown to 1 part green
  • Turn the pile often
  • Keep it moist

And remember, whatever you do, find the fun in gardening, and grow something beautiful!

Until next week, Happy Gardening!