What is involved in making compost beside unwanted plant material. I have a plastic bin provided by Toronto city years ago and I do get almost like soil at the bottom that I can remove but I wondered if the process could be speeded up.


Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners with your compost question.  Making compost is the single best thing you can do for your garden because it adds organic matter to the soil. The key to success is to find what works best for you so that you can keep doing it without a lot of effort for great results in your garden. It doesn’t have to be complicated.

The key to good compost is to have the proper balance between carbon rich (“brown”) material such as dry leaves, corn stalks, twigs and sawdust and nitrogen-rich (“green”) materials such as food scraps, coffee grounds, and grass clippings .

The following information is from one of our earlier posts:

The ideal ratio of brown and green material for composting is 3 parts brown/carbon rich material to 1 part green/nitrogen rich material, measured by volume. This ratio promotes the creation of quicker (ideal microbe growth and working efficiency) and better (30:1 carbon : nitrogen, ideal for use in the garden) compost.

Compostable materials can be chopped and shredded before being added to the compost pile, but they don’t need to be. Larger pieces will just take longer to break down. Fallen leaves can be shredded by going over them with a lawn mower while they are on the lawn, or by putting the leaves in a garbage can and using a string trimmer on them (eye and ear protection required). There are also leaf blowers that have leaf shredding capability. Or you can use a bucket to gauge the amount of green vs brown material that you are adding to the compost pile (3 buckets of brown for every bucket of green), and for fallen leaves, put them in the bucket and squish them down to remove air. Note that oak leaves break down more slowly than other types of leaves, so shredding them can speed up their breakdown process.

The speed at which material is composted depends upon the size of the pile, the size of the materials used and the amount of heat generated.  chopping your material into smaller pieces will make it easier for the bacteria to break it down. Adding a large amount of material collected over a few days will generate more heat as well as keeping your compost pile in a sunny location.

Here is a website with step by step information about composting that you might find helpful : A Guide to Backyard Composting

You may also find the following websites helpful: How to Start Composting 

Backyard Compost Handbook

Happy Composting!