How to compost at home

Compost, compost or humus is organic matter, a high quality natural fertilizer, a natural alternative to chemical fertilizers, which favors the growth and yield of crops, while protecting the soil where it is deposited. Therefore, many people want to know how to compost at home.

While it is true, compost has been around forever, since it really is the decomposition of green plants on the ground, Sir Albert Howard is regarded as the one who first experimented with it, before the first world war and formed the first mixture with other components.

This substance, which can be obtained artificially by causing the decomposition of plant and animal residues, is used in agriculture and gardening as a fertilizer for the soil. Other uses include erosion control, coating and reclamation of soils, and even landscaping.


Between the 1960s and 1980s, with improvements in health systems, literacy, technological advances, and changes in agricultural techniques, mortality was reduced and life expectancy lengthened.

From these years is the so-called green revolution, which introduced a large amount of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides to increase the yield of crops.

The United Nations (UN) estimates that if current population growth continues, by 2050 we will have reached the figure of 9.6 billion people on the planet. And the alarms go off since, according to the current situation of natural resources and agricultural production, it would be necessary to triple them to maintain the current way of life.

The change that the green revolution brought in the traditional agricultural system resulted in an increase in crops and an increase in their yield. The problem arose in the short term when there was evidence of a poor selection of land and resources, while the effects on the environment were ignored, which affected soils, the quality and quantity of water and the atmosphere.

A new wave of this revolution seeks change the model to one of sustainability that includes all types of soils and areas. This is where the return to organic systems that improve the soil, such as the use of compost, has a place.

Compost basics

At a general level, it is estimated that a good quality compost should have four components:

  • Group of brown or dry elements: Here there is room for natural products such as dry leaves, pieces of wood, sawdust, branches, straw, dry hay and manure from farmyard animals; Shredded newspaper and used napkins can also be added.
  • Group of green or wet elements: in this mixture it is important to have plant residues of any kind, grass, fresh leaves, old flowers and organic remains, such as peels and skins of fruits and vegetables, fruit bones, etc. You can also add used bags of tea and coffee grounds.
  • land: in an amount equal to the sum of the brown and green groups, as it will help to add volume and body to the mixture.
  • Water: it should help to form a homogeneous mixture with the rest of the elements.

Materials NOT to be used

  • Color printed material.
  • Cigarette filters.
  • Coal ash.
  • Fish and meat.
  • Non-recyclable diapers.
  • Derivatives of milk.
  • Products containing fat and yeast.
  • Synthetic fabrics.
  • Cat and dog feces.
  • Egg yolks.
  • Oils
  • Debris removed from the vacuum cleaner or swept up with the broom.

The amount of green and brown elements must be equal, before mixing it with the earth and water.

How to compost at home

In the case of having a garden at home, you can start by opening a hole or piling up a pile of soil. If you live in an apartment, you can start with a garbage bag or can or with a wooden box or crate.

Prepare the container or place:

In the garden: You should choose a shady place with access to water. Opens a hole the size of the amount of compost what you want to do.

At home: put in a small trash can, and pierce the can on the bottom and sides. Place that pot inside a larger one. Between one and the other, place a stone or a brick and fill that space with branches or pieces of wood. Make sure to cover the pot to keep it warm.

Prepare the compost:

Fill the first layer, the bottom layer, with branches that allow ventilation. If you have manure, this is where you should add it.

Place a layer of brown elements and one of earth, or one of green elements and one of earth and alternate them. This mixture should stay moist, so it will need to be stirred every one to two weeks.

On the last layer, which should be dirt, place a blanket, tarp or cover to keep it warm and humid.

You can make a single batch, with which you only check the humidity level and stir; If you want to keep it active, you add organic waste daily and watch the lower layers to see if they are ready.

Possible problems and solutions:

  • Ants: add water to the mix.
  • Flies, mosquitoes or worms: be sure to bury fresh food scraps well.
  • Bad smells: check the list of what you cannot add; you may have missed one. Remove immediately and add dry items.

Using compost: To see if it’s ready, grab a handful. If the color is dark and you do not notice any remains, if not, maybe some branches, it will be. The process can take 3 to 6 months, depending on the outside temperature. Add earthworms to the place where you are adding it as compost; they will help oxygenate the mixture.

Storage: you can save the compost that you are not going to use immediately in hermetically sealed bags.

Frequency of use: once a year.


  • Increases the fertility of the land.
  • It offers a practical and easy-to-use solution to the management of household organic waste.
  • It serves as food for plants.
  • It reduces the erosion, drought and contamination of the land and improves its structure.
  • Promote recycling at home.
  • Reduces water loss due to evaporation from plants.
  • Optimize crop production.

The options for making compost at home are diverse. The most important thing is to follow the directions, and be very patient to see the results.

You may also be interested in reading this article on how textile waste should be treated.

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