Composting for Beginners: Tips, Methods, Products & More

A hand pushing food scraps off cutting board into composting bin

On a quest to live a greener, lower waste lifestyle? Ready to say goodbye to chemical fertilizers? Then allow us to introduce you to the art of composting! Composting is the breakdown of organic matter into soil that is rich in nutrients and microorganisms. This is a fantastic way to reduce food waste, as you’re disposing of your scraps and turning them into usable soil. This soil will help you grow more food in your backyard, enriching your life, garden, and property. 

The benefits of composting are endless. Composting can reduce landfill waste, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and save you money on bagged fertilizer. If you want to enjoy these benefits but are totally new to composting, don’t worry. Our composting for beginner’s guide covers everything you need to know about this rewarding process! We’ll discuss several topics today to help you achieve the best compost possible, including:


Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s start with the very basics. How do you begin composting?

 

How to start composting?

The exact steps of composting vary by method, but here are the basics on how to begin composting: 

  1. Start your compost pile somewhere dry and shaded.
  2. Add layers of green and brown materials (straw, weeds, etc.).
  3. Keep the pile damp without letting it moisten too much.
  4. Turn your compost every few weeks to distribute air through the pile.
  5. When the pile looks and smells like dirt, it’s ready to be used.

Of course, there’s much more to composting than that. If you want finished compost that breaks down quickly and doesn’t attract pests, check out our helpful composting tips below!


 

 


Top 10 composting tips for beginners

An person writing something on a paper with compost in the background

Want some tips on how to compost at home for beginners? You’ve come to the right place! Here are some tried and tested composting 101 tips to help you get started. 

  1. Learn What NOT to Compost - Not everything is meant to be composted. Some waste can actually attract unwanted pests or slow down the composting process. 
  2. Put Your Bin Somewhere Accessible - No matter what you’re using to compost, keep it nearby. If you plan on using an outdoor bin, for example, don’t place it somewhere you can’t easily reach during the winter. 
  3. Use the Proper Materials - There are several compost materials you can include in your first compost pile to help the decomposition process. This includes various brown and green materials, such as hay, straw, garden soil, bark chips, and dry leaves.
  4. Remember to Compost Year-Round - Did you know you can compost year-round, no matter the season? You can do this by opting for winter-friendly outdoor composting methods or an indoor composting method.
  5. Use Compost as Mulch or Fertilizer - Composting is a great way to dispose of kitchen waste in an eco-friendly way, but don’t neglect its countless benefits as a garden mulch or lawn fertilizer!  
  6. Slice and Dice to Speed Up the Process - No beginner’s guide to composting is complete without this tip. You can speed up the decomposition process of your compost by dicing and slicing kitchen waste before adding it to your compost pile. 
  7. Compost Needs Air - Remember that oxygen is a critical ingredient of quality compost. Without air, your compost could become anaerobic and have a slimy appearance as a result. 
  8. Keep Your Compost Damp - Composting organisms need water to efficiently decompose waste. You can use a garden hose to dampen your compost pile, but avoid letting it get too wet or you may create an anaerobic environment.
  9. Try Composting With Worms - When you think of how to compost for beginners, the idea of using earthworms may seem too complex. However, this method isn’t overly complicated and can be used both indoors and outdoors. 
  10. Consider an Electric Composter - Put off by the backyard composting for beginners methods you’ve seen? Consider an indoor electric composter for your kitchen that requires minimal effort or maintenance. 

 


 

3 best indoor composting methods you should try 

There are many different ways of composting, all of which strive to break down organic material in the fastest, most efficient way possible. If you live in an apartment building or would simply prefer composting scraps indoors, here are a few methods you can try.

1. Electric composter

A man adding kitchen scraps into Lomi electric composter

One of the more convenient composting methods out there is using an electric composter. An electric composter is a kitchen countertop-friendly device that can decompose food and organic waste, converting it into nutrient-dense dirt. The Lomi electric composter, for example, is able to do this very quickly and can be used with ease year-round. With an appliance like Lomi, you can reduce waste without having to worry about odor. 

Use this method if: you live in an apartment building, you don’t have a lot of space, you want something simple, and/or you don’t want to handle worms. 

Pro tip: Electric composters can’t break down everything. Take the time to research what waste should or shouldn’t be put in an electric composter to avoid damaging your device.

 

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2. Worm composting

Handful of dirt and earthworms

Worm composting, also known as vermicomposting, is a composting method that can be done inside or outdoors. Vermicomposting involves introducing earthworms into a compost pile to break down the waste and accelerate the decomposition process. To go about this method correctly, you’ll need one or multiple worm bins with enough holes to ensure that the worms always have enough air. The finished compost you get in return should be nutrient-rich and more capable of protecting your plants from disease. 

Use this method if: you don’t mind handling worms and you have a lot of waste.

Pro tip: Not all worms are equally capable of breaking down waste. Red wigglers and red worms are believed to be the best species’ for creating successful compost.  

 

3. Aerobic composting

A woman adding food waste scraps into a compost bin

Uncomfortable with the idea of handling worms? No problem. There are plenty of indoor composting methods without worms, including aerobic composting! This method involves the use of microbes from garden soil to convert waste into compost. Aerobic composting is one of the easiest methods of achieving finished compost. All you need is a lidded plastic storage container, soil, and a trowel to bury waste in the soil layer. Make sure to drill a grid of evenly spaced air holes throughout the bin to ensure adequate airflow and decomposition!

Use this method if: you don’t mind the smell and you want something simple.

Pro tip: Place your compost bin on top of a wide plastic tray to catch any liquid that escapes from the lower air holes. 

 

3 easy backyard composting methods for beginners

Do you have lots of property you’d like to put to good use? Then you should consider trying one of these effective and efficient outdoor composting methods for beginners!


1. Cold composting

Woman adding scraps into an outdoor compost pile

Cold composting is an excellent method of composting for beginners, as it’s simple and effective. All you have to do is leave your compostable waste in a pile outdoors and let nature decompose the materials for you. Many use wood pallets to create a sort of DIY compost bin, preferably one that allows in lots of oxygen but deters animals and makes the compost pile easy to spot during winter. While there are ways of speeding up the decomposition process, cold composting is definitely one of the slower methods. 

Use this method if: you want a low maintenance composting method, you have free space on your property, and you don’t mind waiting for compost.

Pro tip: Find cold composting too slow? You can speed up the decomposition by going out and turning your compost every few days with a pitchfork or shovel. 

 

2. Tumbler composting

Person dumping food scraps into tumbler composter

Tumble composting is accomplished with a tumbler - an outdoor rotating compost bin. Tumblers make it easy to turn your compost regularly, allowing moisture, heat, nutrients, and oxygen to be evenly distributed throughout the waste. Being able to rotate and spin your compost pile accelerates the decomposition process, making this method faster than cold composting. That said, tumbler compost bins come with a limited volume that you don’t have to worry about with a cold compost pile.

Use this method if: if you don’t have a large property and you don’t have large amounts of organic waste.

Pro tip: A tumbler separates your waste from the many living decomposers in the ground, which could potentially slow the decomposition process. You can speed things up by adding healthy soil or manure into your first compost pile or two.

 

3. Trench composting

A pile of food waste

Your kitchen scraps don’t need to be put in a bin or a tumbler to decompose into compost. In fact, you can cut out the middleman by burying your waste into the soil of your garden beds. Simply dig a trench with enough room for your garden waste and then cover it up again once you’ve laid everything down. Trench composting can be quite slow and does require more labor than the other methods, but it does allow you to compost scraps you couldn’t normally compost for fear of attracting rodents (meat, dairy, grains, etc.). Rodents aren’t a concern with trench composting, so long as layer enough soil on top of your trench.

Use this method if: you intend on growing plants and you don’t mind spending time and energy digging the trenches. 

Pro tip: Once you’ve buried your waste, consider adding a layer of organic mulch over top to protect the soil from the elements. This will help give your waste time to decompose in the trench. 

 

4 best compost bins for beginners that are easy to use

Compost bins come in many shapes and forms. The type you select should vary based on whether you want to compost indoors or outdoors, along with what level of convenience you’re looking for. 

1. Lomi

Electric composter with food scraps in it

Want to go beyond the basic compost bin? This electric kitchen appliance is one of the very best indoor compost bins out there. Lomi can break down various Lomi Approved materials, organic waste, and food waste like coffee grounds, tea bags, and leftovers. Once the waste is broken down, the appliance applies heat and humidity to create the optimal environment for microbes to further decompose the organic materials. This eventually leads to microbe and nutrient-rich dirt. As an added bonus, this compact composter fits nicely on almost any kitchen counter!

Price: $499

Why we recommend it: Lomi is effective, efficient, user-friendly, and a great addition to any kitchen. 

Ideal for: This appliance is ideal for people who want an indoor composting method that doesn’t attract pests, create a mess, or give off foul orders. Lomi is also very compact, making it well-suited to small homes and apartments.

 

2. VIVOSUN Outdoor Tumbling Composter

VIVOSUN outdoor tumbling composter
Image Credit: Amazon

VIVOSUN’s outdoor tumbling composter is among the best compost tumblers for beginners. One reason for this is its twin chambers, which allow you to achieve finished compost in batches. This helps get around one of the most common complaints about the tumbling compost method - the lack of space in tumblers. The VIVOSUN tumbler is also incredibly easy to turn with little effort. All you need to do is spin it every few days to achieve fresh compost faster.

Another great feature of this tumbler is that it’s designed to allow for the best air circulation possible. This is made possible through various adjustable air vents and deep fins. This helps break up clumps of waste in the chambers and accelerates the composting process. This corrosion-resistant, weather-resistant, galvanized steel tumbler is a great choice if you opt for the tumble composting method. 

Price: $105.99

Why we recommend it: The VIVOSUN tumbler is distinct for its twin chambers, but its strongest feature is that it allows for excellent air circulation. 

Ideal for: This tumbler is ideal for people who want to create compost in a way that’s simple and stress-free. The twin chambers are great for those in need of a near-constant supply of compost for a garden. The VIVOSUN isn’t terribly large, so it’s also suitable for people with limited property space. 

 

3. Bokashi

Man opening bokashi kitchen composter bin
Image Credit: Bokashi

The Bokashi bin might be the best compost bin for beginners. It’s unique from most composting methods in that it involves anaerobic composting. That means your waste is being converted into compost without the use of oxygen, which is normally a vital ingredient. This is partly due to the Bokashi bran mixture of bran, molasses, and EM-1 microorganisms, which you sprinkle on top of your kitchen scraps in the sealable Bokashi compost container. 

Unlike most composting methods, you can use the Bokashi bin for all of your kitchen waste. This includes banana peels, eggshells, cooked meat, dairy products, and other materials. In about 4-6 weeks, your waste should be converted into microbe-rich compost. A one bin Bokashi starter kit comes with one Bokashi kitchen composter, 1-3 bags of Bokashi bran compost activators, and a complete guide to Bokashi Composting booklet. 

Price: $55-$75 (starter kit)

Why we recommend it: The Bokashi bin makes indoor composting easy. It’s also much more efficient than vermicomposting, cold composting, or the standard aerobic compost bin. 

Ideal for: The Bokashi bin is ideal for people who don’t have the space to compost outdoors and who want a low-maintenance indoor kitchen composting method that won’t make a mess.

 

4. All Seasons Indoor Composter

All Seasons composter bin with Bokashi bran
Image Credit: Amazon

The All Seasons Indoor Composter is another great composting bin for beginners. The one included in the starter kit is 5-gallons, allowing it to host large volumes of waste while still being countertop-friendly. This compost bin functions similarly to the Bokashi bin, as it uses an anaerobic method over the typical aerobic method. You simply scrape waste into the bin, sprinkle some Bokashi compost starter, then close the lid. 

Like the Bokashi bin, the All Seasons compost bin is air-tight and can break down all different kinds of waste, including vegetable peelings, coffee grounds, meat, and dairy. The starter kit comes with a durable, 5-gallon, BPA-free plastic bin and 2lbs of compost starter. 

Price: $63.95

Why we recommend it: This compost bin is very affordable, gives off very little odor, and is sized to sit conveniently by your trash can or under your kitchen sink. 

Ideal for: This beginner All Seasons bin is another reliable choice for people who want a simple kitchen composting method for moderate amounts of kitchen scraps. 

 

7 great resources on composting basics, tips, and tricks 

The information we’ve provided above offers everything you need in a composting guide for beginners. That said, there are many resources out there if you’d like to go beyond composting 101! For your convenience, we’ve curated a list of links to some fantastic resources on all things composing:

  1. The Complete Compost Gardening Guide - Deborah Martin and Barbara Pleasant’s book is the ultimate resource for garden composting for beginners. They cover how to develop mature compost in your garden and how to best put it to use.
  2. Honestly Modern - Since its founding in 2013 by Jen Panaro, the Honestly Modern blog has focused on various aspects of eco-friendly living. This includes compost FAQs, tips on worm composting for beginners, and much more.
  3. The Ultimate Guide to Indoor Composting - Interested in content focused on kitchen composting for beginners? Check out Pela’s incredibly informative and straightforward guide. 
  4. Let It Rot! The Gardener’s Guide to Composting - Stu Campbell’s easy-to-use guide is a stellar composting for beginners book. First published in 1998, Campbell’s guide remains a trusted resource for gardeners everywhere. 
  5. How to Make Compost - The Simplest Easy Method to Compost Piles! - YouTube composting for beginners can be found on the popular YouTube channel Growit Buildit. The video linked above explains the ins and outs of basic outdoor composting, including information on what you can and can’t compost.
  6. Big Blog of Gardening - Author and gardening-enthusiast Todd Heft’s Big Blog of Gardening is loaded with content related to beginner composting. This includes how to build your own compost bin, the basics of trench composting, and more. 
  7. 6 Different Ways to Compost, No Matter Where You Live - The Epic Gardening YouTube channel boasts over one million subscribers, and it’s not hard to see why. Their ‘6 Different Ways to Compost’ video expands on several of the composting methods described in our guide above. 

 

The great thing about composting is that there’s isn’t one correct way of doing it. You can utilize and combine different methods to best suit your lifestyle, climate, property, and preferences. If you’re interested in a composting method that’s simple and stress-free, a kitchen composter could be exactly what you’ve been looking for. An effective kitchen composter is one of many ways you can create a zero-waste kitchen and a more eco-friendly lifestyle!


Written by: E Sawden