DIY Composting 101: A (Very) Abbreviated Visual Guide


  • 32-Gallon Plastic Trash Bin = $15.47 Home Depot
  • Compostable “waste” (food scraps, junk mail, shredded cardboard) = FREE!
  • Electric Drill = Already owned, purchased for about $30 at Home Depot. Remember you can just use a hammer and nails (it just takes a little longer).
  • Two Concrete cinder blocks (bricks, or any other elevating solid & level material that keeps the bin off the ground is fine)

Please, note that this is a very, very abbreviated step-by-step. There have been books written about composting for a reason…there is truly a science to it! But I thought a basic guide would be helpful so as to make it less intimidating to the amateur composter (most of us). You need a good balance of Carbon & Nitrogen in order for the compost heap to, well, compost. Too much of either, or an unbalanced mix of the two will not compost as fast, as well, or possibly at all. A heap of grass cuttings without any carbon products won’t do anything but melt into a slimy mess.

It shouldn’t be too dry though, adding moisture by manually watering is very important if all you have in your can is a pile of dry paper and kitchen scraps that haven’t yet become mushy and wet.

The holes in the bin are there so that air can circulate and help the process of decomposing, but they’re not big enough to let little animals in. The elevation of the bin is so that it is kept off the moist ground, which can be especially important for those who have metal trashbins.


* Meat, bone, fish
* Dairy products & grease
* Grains, beans & breads
* Dog, cat & bird feces
* Sawdust from plywood or treated wood
* Wood prunings
* Diseased plants


* All fruit & vegetable trimmings
* Coffee grounds & filters
* Tea bags
* Citrus rinds
* Rinsed-out, crushed eggshells
* Used paper towels
* Soft green plant trimmings
* Most types of sawdust
* Chopped woody prunings
* Pine needles
* Fallen leaves
* Lawn clippings & young weeds
* Herbivore manures

*(“do’s & don’ts” courtesy of

Hopefully this helps. I know that for me it took much longer than it should have to get my ass in gear and composting because I was simply intimidated and worried I might not do it right. This is my first compost bin, so it may not turn out perfect, but I will certainly be keeping you posted on the mishaps & triumphs of this new addition to my organic gardening life – Good luck!

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2 thoughts on “DIY Composting 101: A (Very) Abbreviated Visual Guide

  1. luckymama says:

    Thank you! Our old bin fell apart. I have no time and money but garden and cook a lot, with five kids, this is a great starter. *relief*

    • gubba says:

      I’m so glad I could help! What’s funny, is that my husband and I moved out of the apartment where we had this bin, and because of some moving issues and timing…we had to leave it behind! I honestly don’t know if it’s still there and it’s such a shame, but hopefully my old neighbors have discovered soil gold in it and used it for their plants by now! Best of luck with your composting adventures! 🙂


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