Compost is the rich fertilizer that results from the natural breakdown of organic material. By mixing food scraps with other organic materials (like yard clippings), you can create high-quality compost at home. With a little bit of time and effort, you will have fresh compost ready to use in your garden!


Provides nutrients for plant growth

Helps maintain soil moisture

Reduces the need for chemical fertilizers and pesticides

Saves you money by reducing water, fertilizer, and pesticide use

Decreases pest problems for plants

Reduces stormwater runoff

Food and yard waste make up 28% of landfills. Composting reduces that waste


Rotten-egg odor: Too much nitrogen; add more browns or turn pile more frequently

Ammonia odor: Too much nitrogen; add more browns

Slow decomposition: Add more water or turn pile more frequently; too much carbon; add greens

Low temperature: Increase pile size, add water; turn pile; or too much carbon; add greens

High temperature: Reduce pile size or turn pile

Pests: Avoid meat, dairy and fatty foods; cover pile; make rodent-resistant



Great compost requires a 1:1 ratio of carbon to nitrogen. Nitrogen-heavy matter is usually green while carbon-heavy matter is typically brown. 

Nitrogen (Greens): green plants, landscape clippings, fresh leaves, flowers, fruits, vegetables, coffee grounds and tea bags

Carbon (Browns): dead leaves, small twigs, straw, pine needles, potting soil, bread and grains, egg shells, nutshells, shredded newspaper, stale beans, flour, spices and wood ashes

Water: compost should be moist like a sponge

Air: turn compost at least once a week to provide oxygen


Large branches

Fats, oil, or grease

Cat or dog feces

Colored or glossy paper

Sawdust from treated wood

Coal or charcoal ashes

Non-biodegradable materials

Toxic materials

Meat or fish

Cheese or dairy products

Pesticide-treated plants and grass

Diseased or pest-infested plants

Poison ivy

Black walnut tree

Invasive plants


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A three bin compost system allows space for cover material, active compost, and turned, finished compost on the right. This three bin composter is made from recycled shipping pallets and hardware cloth.