What Is Needed to Start Composting?

To begin composting, gather "brown" materials, such as fallen leaves, shredded newspaper, straw or cornstalks and dead flowers. The “green” items needed for composting include grass clippings, barnyard animal manure, vegetable peelings and fruit rinds.

Pick an area near the garden that is three feet long by three feet wide or larger. Build the pile by laying down a layer of the brown materials and then the green items. A layer of straw or cornstalks on the bottom of the pile helps to keep everything contained. Top the two layers with a thin layer of soil, and add more brown material. When the three layers are complete, moisten the pile with water. Continue this process until the pile is about three feet tall. It might take a while to gather enough brown and green materials so that the pile reaches three feet tall. Turn the pile every two weeks to move the center of the compost pile to the outside. Throughout the process, apply water as needed to keep the pile moist but not soggy.

Compost takes anywhere from two months to a year to become ready to use. Selecting a sunny spot for the compost pile increases its temperature and accelerates decomposition of the compost.