A few months back I began working on my compost. I'd never done it before, and after reading about it, I thought, "How hard can it be?" You save some scraps, put them in a bin, and voila! compost!
Except, when I finally went to check on it, all I had was a stinky mess of rotting fruit and vegetable parts.
I've been on the phone with Master Gardeners and reading more about the subject, so that I can do this better the second time around. Here's what I've learned.
Compost needs air. I do remember hearing this. In fact, a friend told me that she had drilled holes in her bin to allow air in. I kind of bypassed this step since we don't have a drill. I thought maybe air coming in the top (since my bin doesn't have a lid) would be enough. It's not. Drill or cut holes.
Another way to get air to your compost is to have a compost pile instead of a compost bin.
Compost needs brown matter. This same friend told me that also. I did add some, but not enough. Brown matter can be dried leaves, straw, or dead grass clippings.
Compost needs bugs. Worms crawl in through those holes in your compost bin, and eat up the organic matter you've put in there. Even if no worms get in, tiny bugs (aka bacteria) will also do the job of eating up your discarded food material. I guess that's why composting will also work directly on the ground, because it allows those bugs access to your compost.
Compost needs water. The ingredients in your compost bin need to be moist to provide an environment where the bacteria can multiply.
Composting reduces your waste. You will have less of an impact on the planet, and as a bonus, you have to take the trash out less.
Compost provides a gourmet meal for your garden. And my garden needs all the help it can get.