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How to make compost

I like the idea of transforming garbage into free mulch and fertilizer. It's a win-win situation when I can save money and keep my eggshells, coffee grinds and weeds out of landfills. Compost is the single best additive available for improving any soil. Soil too sandy? Add compost. Too much clay? Add compost. Lacking nutrients? Compost. No wonder gardeners call it black gold.

3. Add 50 percent (or less) of greens
(Credit: John Paraskevas)

3. Add 50 percent (or less) of greens

Green materials are rich in nitrogen, and likewise, are mostly green, or at least fresher than browns. Greens include grass clippings, fruit and veggie scraps and freshly picked weeds. Cornstarch packing peanuts and coffee grinds, though not green, also are rich in nitrogen. So even though they defy the color-coding principles set forth here, they are greens. Greens help speed the decomposition of your rotting garbage.

4. Keep it moist Sprinkle the pile lightly
(Credit: Getty Images)

4. Keep it moist

Sprinkle the pile lightly with a hose whenever you add a new layer or notice the pile drying out. It should be moist, not soggy.

Compost don'ts You should never include fats (meat

Compost don'ts

You should never include fats (meat or fish table scraps, dairy products, oils, etc.), diseased plants or weeds that have gone to seed in your pile. And never add materials that don't decompose, such as plastic or glass. Bird and rabbit droppings, and horse manure are OK, but kitty litter and dog poop are not. As a rule of thumb, excrement from carnivores is off limits.

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