How to Make Your Own Compost System at Home


Lindsey and Laura here at the urban farm are going to share with you, how we set up our compost system and how you can do something similar in your own yard!


So here at the farm, we have a three pile system and each pile is allotted for a different stage of decomposition. As one pile like this one in the middle might be completely done. This one has just been added to the most recently. So we like to do this because it’s important that here on the farm, we always have compost. And this is a great way to ensure that we can have it year round.

So here, I’m going to show you this pile. So this is our most deconstructed compost, and you can see elements of things that we have added in the pile. So things like leaf litter and straw are still working their way, but what has decomposed is all the organic matter that we have added? So things like vegetable scraps, animal manure, this is where we love to add a lot of our animal waste. So all the water from the duck ponds, we use that to add moisture. It’s really important that you always keep your compost pile wet and with lots of moisture, because if it dries out, that’ll kill a lot of the healthy bacteria and microorganisms.

But also to not make it too wet, otherwise it can drown out your microbes as well.

Yes. So it’s all about finding balance. So in the summer we water our compost pile for about a week. And until you get in the process of doing this, it’s kind of hard to give a number. You kind of have to just test and see. So as you can see, this compost is moist, but it’s still fluffy. It’s not soggy. And that’s important. And then also, and Laura’s gonna show you this to add aeration because that aeration is essential for making sure that we, everything gets mixed around and the microorganisms are spread and that we can evenly distribute that water and moisture when we’re adding it. So giving it a simple turn like this, or if you have an empty compost bed next to it, you can actually move everything over. And this will put what’s on the top, on the bottom.

And then when this bed is empty, completely move from this container to this one, you can start adding your new nitrogen and carbon back into this container as it will be empty.

So having a good compost system is all about finding balance. You kind of have to get a feel for it before you know exactly what you’re doing. Here’s something fun that we learned. Coconut holes do not break down in our compost. These are probably over two years old, two years old. So there’s just certain things that you kind of have to learn as you go. So composting coconut holes do not compost.

Something we learned!

Once you have compost, as you can see, ours is still pretty mulchy. What we like to do in order to get a finer compost. That’s easier to use in our garden beds is sift it.

We’re gonna show you how to make your own compost sifter. So what you start off with is a wood base, kind of like this. You can use all four wood pieces and screw them together. And then you also can buy this hardware. This is called a hardware cloth. It’s basically just a wire and there’s different gauges that have different size of holes. So you cut to size your piece that you want. And then you extend it over your frame. Then it’s easiest to use a stapler, an outdoor stapler, and you just staple your wire onto your frame. If you don’t have a stapler, you can also use a screwdriver and screws or even nails. So you space out your staples. So it’s nice and tight. And here you go, you have your own little compost shifter for your yard.

So as you saw from the previous clip, this is a DIY sifter that we made with just a basic frame and hard wire cloth. And what we’re gonna do is just take some of this and we’re just gonna sift it. And this will make sure that any rocks or any large mulchy components won’t make it into your garden bed, because those aren’t as helpful. And the byproduct is this beautiful, gorgeous, fluffy compost. And this is what we love to add to our garden beds. We also add it to a basic potting mix that we use to start our seedlings. So it’s just really nice, really easy to use full of microorganisms and nutrients, and just really healthy. And as Laura can attest our compost pile doesn’t smell. So we have healthy microbes that are doing their jobs.

So there are four essential ingredients in building good compost. They are carbon nitrogen, water, and air. And these all play a key component in making sure that the decomposition of your pile is gonna be healthy, build up microbes and healthy nutrients and not have an awful smell because nobody likes the smell of bad compost.

We hope this video showed you how easy it can be to have your own compost system. Ours is simply a space in the backyard, and we use some cinder blocks to make these partitioned sections. And you can have as few or as many sections of compost as fit your needs. And it’s really helpful if you have a sifter, like the one that we showed you, if you wanna get that really fine, beautiful compost, like the one that we made in this video. So we hope this helped you start on your journey to have your own compost system and reuse all the things that are going to waste in your yard!


  • Lynette’s mission is to translate financial noise into understandable language and enable educated, independent choices. All her work is fact and evidence based and she shares these tools openly. She believes strongly that we need to be as independent as possible and at the same time, we need to come together in community to survive and thrive through any financial crisis.

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