How to compost

homemade compost and composter

I return to the topic of composting from some videos that I have seen of Charles Dowding which is based on the philosophy of No Dig, No Dig (which we will talk about in another article). Dowding only uses compost in its garden. Compost for everything. And it teaches you both to create it and to use it and as a plant and take care of your garden.

Compost recipes There are dozens, although all are based on the same principle but each one does it in their own way.

I have seen and read a lot of related content and there are people who try to speed it up as much as possible to make the process faster, others who add meat, even cooked food leftovers, but I just can't see that. Adding meat seems like a mistake for this type of aerobic decomposition, another thing is that you compost from urban solid waste, such as those collected in bins, but they are usually done with anaerobic processes and we are talking about something totally different.

Why compost?

There are many reasons to compost. I'm talking about homemade compost. The ones that have led me to do it are:

  • I take advantage of a large amount of organic waste that went to the garbage.
  • I also reuse all the remnants of mowing and pruning that were left in piles in the garden waiting to be burned
  • I get compost for the garden and I manage to improve the land

Step by step

Step 1. Choose the site and the composter

choose location for composter

Choose the place and the composter that you are going to have. I have put it in a temporary place between 2 pomegranates, a place with a lot of shade because I have not prepared the orchard area where I want to leave it permanently.

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I guess you already have a composter, if not, you can do your not like the one I have made with pallets, but even if you don't want to complicate it, there are people who do it on the ground and cover it with a tarp.

Alternatively buy one.

Don't worry about not having a composter, there are people who even make the pile on the ground and cover it with a tarp.

Step 2. First coat

Composter without base for composting on the ground

Start composting directly on the ground, do not put any foundation. in this way, it will absorb the leachate that is created.

For the first layer, they recommend starting with Brown, that is, with dry leaves, shavings, etc. I started with a layer of dried medlar leaves.

first layer, composting step by step

Moisten the leaves, add water to an accelerator, well bought, well prepared based on nitrogen. But come on, water is enough.

Step 3. Second layer

we add green or nitrogen-bearing products

From now on we will start making a sandwich. We will throw the remains of mowing, grass, plants, fruits, vegetables, etc. and we will form a green layer that we will then cover with another brown layer.

With each layer you have to add water to moisten.

Step 4. Moisten the pile

second layer of compost pile

Some people like me moisten the pile, that is, adding water as the layers are added, and others prefer to do it last. There are even those who remove the layers to mix everything and, they say, speed up the process as the nitrogen products are more in contact with those of carbon.

Step 5. Stack check

we make a sandwich of layers and we moisten

This must be done periodically. The idea is to have a compost thermometer to see the temperature at which the pile reaches, since it should not be between 60 and 70ºC.

If it exceeds 70 it means that we have gone over with the nitrogen, the green material and it is necessary to aerate, that is, remove the pile and add brown or carbon.

If it is below 60, you have to see if it lacks moisture and if we have added few Nitrogen elements and in that case add more to our pile.

Compost tools

I have started with nothing, and I have taken advantage of what I have at hand, but it is true that there are tools that are missed and that I suppose I will end up buying or when possible building them. These tools are:

Composter. (You can buy ! o !) I have made one, it involves little effort and it pays off, but if you want a commercial one, they sell many models.

Gallow. (Buy it !) Also called fork or fork, it serves to mix the compost pile while it is decomposing and also to move the finished compost

Aerator / Mixer. (Buy it !) As its name suggests, it is a tool that is used to mix compost and aerate it, it also allows us to extract tastings to see how the process is going. It is a very simple tool.

Compost thermometer. (ESSENTIAL HERE) Without a doubt what I miss the most. It is a long thermometer that we stick in the pile or silo and we see the temperature inside. Taking into account the temperature we will know how the composting is going and if we have to do something, moisten, turn, add more carbon or more nitrate, etc.

Throttle. (Purchase !) I have seen it on the Internet, although I have not tried it. There are people who put an accelerator. It can also be made at home, leaving green herbs, pruning remains, etc. in water for 10 days. Using beer after the alcohol has evaporated, there are even people who use urine that is very rich in nitrogen as an accelerator.

What can I put in the compost?

The material that we put into our compost pile is divided into 2 types. Green, which is everything that gives it nitrogen and brown, which is what gives it carbon.

Composting is a process with which we transform organic matter into compost

Green (practically anything)

  • Uncooked vegetable and vegetable scraps
  • Fruits
  • yes citrus too
  • Coffee grounds
  • eggshells
  • manure, especially of hebivores


  • Dry pruning debris
  • dry leaves
  • inkless paper and cardboard
  • sawdust
  • ash

If we pay attention to the decomposition rate of the material, we could divide the material into 3 types, but always without losing in mind that the mixture of green (nitrogen) + brown (carbon) forms the compost.

Fast decomposition

Fresh leaves, grass clippings, manure, and all herbs and plants with a tender leaf.

Slow decomposition

Straw, fruits, vegetables, weeds whose stem or leaves are not tender, manure or beds that contain straw, pruning of tender hedges.

Very slow decomposition

Branches, eggshells, fruit stones, nut shells, wood shavings, sawdust.

To be used in a timely manner

Ash, newspapers, cardboard

What proportion should be used?

Depending on who you read they speak of a 40-60, 50-50 or 60-40 Dopwding which is who we are paying attention to in this guide recommends 60-40, that is, 60% green matter and 40% brown, this The temperature will rise a lot, and we have to be careful not to overdo it.


There are a number of myths that are debunked by Dowling.

  1. Citrus. Many people think not, but you can add citrus to the pile. The only thing if you add a lot will be to control the pH.
  2. Roots. There is no problem in using rooted plants
  3. Seed plants. The same thing happens, many people believe that you should not compost plants that have seeds, because they will remain in the compost and will germinate when we use it. But this is not so.

If the compost is done well, it reaches temperatures over 60-70ºC, more than enough to kill roots and deactivate the seeds. with what we will not have any problem when using the resulting compost

My first compost

I document this first composting, to see what I do and if it turns out bad for me to be able to study where I have failed.

I start on 25-10-2020 making a compost bin from wooden pallets and add dried medlar leaves and dry herbs, ash. As green material, grass, fruit and vegetable remains, coffee grounds and the latrine of our rabbit that in addition to its excrement has extruded paper that is what makes it absorb the pee and does not smell. I wet each layer with water.

I keep filling and on 1-11-2020 I fill half the composter, with a little contribution of fruits and vegetables, with paper and rabbit excrement, but especially with the eggplant plants, which the neighbor has removed and was going to burn and I have kept them. the pile is very dry and I water more abundantly, I am putting water with fertilizer pellets to add nitrogen and speed up the process.

8-11-2020 I add rabbit paper and kitchen scraps and a layer of brown.

18-11-2020 Stuffed with herbs that I remove and add moisture, I need to mix everything well.

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