Composting 101

On today’s sustainable growing scene, organic gardening tips are plentiful. And one that always comes up is the composting bin. But what of the inexperienced gardener left wondering where to begin? Well, newbies thirsty for knowledge, we welcome you to Composting 101.

Let’s launch our learning from the most basic spot – a definition (courtesy of

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Fill window boxes with healthy soil before planting for best growing success! Photo Credit: Flickr

com•post [kom-pohst]

1. a mixture of various decaying organic substances, as dead leaves or manure, used for fertilizing soil.
2. a composition; compound.

Nothing to it, right? Well, not exactly. Although Mother Nature performs an impressive composting feat of worldwide proportions daily, she’s had a bit more time to practice than you. As such, nature’s perfected process provides the most worthy example to follow.



Nature: The Biodynamic Farming Linchpin

Since eons before you could search “Composting 101” on the internet, worldwide ecosystems have depended on this natural system of decomposition to thrive. Here’s the breakdown:

Composting = Oxygen + Nitrogen + Carbon + Moisture

These four basic components provide the key to converting solid waste material into compost. And it happens every day without a single finger lifted by humans. The reason for this combination of nutrients, air and moisture is the microorganisms or “microbes” that it feeds.

A microbe is a single-cell organism present in in all living things and their environments. In fact, without them, plants, animals and humans could not exist. And in natural composting, like on the forest floor, these microscopic organisms are responsible for the slow breakdown of solid matter – like fallen leaves and animal waste – into beneficial nourishment that regenerates and fuels new growth.

Taking our cues from nature, humans can recreate and control the process for a faster result. Enter the composting bin.

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Mix composted matter with soil in large garden planters to encourage growth. Photo Credit: Flickr

From Trash Emerges Nourishing Treasure

Start getting the container garden results you want by treating planters as an organic garbage dump. That’s right – all those peelings, carrot green tops and withered foliage are actually fodder for new growth. So, put the breaks on throwing them out, and get to composting!

From small space Kitchen Countertop Composters to a 37-Gallon Outdoor Composting Drum, there is much variety to choose from. Our best advice is to choose a compost bin based on what you plan to do with it. For example, to create small batches of container garden fertilizer, a single-drum, continuously producing system like this one does the trick.

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Grab a friend, and remember – sharing is caring!   Photo Credit: Flickr

By throwing in cooking scraps and yard waste, add to the mixture daily and rotate the drum to disperse air and moisture, thereby aiding in decomposition. Before using compost in planters, sift out any large chunks and simply put them back into the mixture.

Share the Composted Wealth

With a composting system in place, the principles of biodynamic farming easily become a part of everyday life. It might sound fancy, but the concept of “biodynamics” is really a simple one: It encourages diversified and balanced ecosystems that are sustainable, healthful and beneficial to local communities and the environment as a whole.

When we use the so-called waste from our own environment and turn it into something regenerative, it’s a good thing for everyone. Add composting to your routine and even share a bag of organic fertilizer with the neighbors: it’s plant, animal and human approved!



Learn how you can start composting with How To Compost and Other Container Gardening Tips!

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