Learning How to Compost

Adam and I have been talking about starting a compost pile for over a year now. It’s another one of those things that we’ve been meaning to do, but keep putting off. I even put a compost bin in my Amazon shopping cart at one point, but never pulled the trigger. So when we found a compost tumbler at our community garage sale for only $20, we knew it was a sign.

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I had looked at the exact same one on Amazon (Lifetime 80-Gal Compost Tumbler) months ago, but didn’t want to spend the money (currently $130). I seriously can’t believe we got it for only $20! Anyway, it was full of big twigs and large branches when we bought it (they were WAY too big for composting) so I quickly cleaned it out and it was good as new!

Before we could start composting, we had to figure out where to keep our new tumbler. After doing some research it’s recommended to place them in partial sun. You’ll want some sun so the mixture will heat up, but you don’t want it to get too hot in there. We also had to think about ease of access. It would be nice to have it near the house so it’s easier to fill, but it also makes sense to keep it near the garden where we’ll actually use the compost. After taking all of that into consideration, we decided to put it next to the shed. It ended up being the best place for partial shade and with the hot temps in Phoenix we figured that was more important that having to walk some extra steps to fill it.

We’re still new at composting, so I taped this free compost list printable from Not Just a Housewife on the inside of a kitchen cabinet. It’s a helpful reminder for what we can/cannot put in our composting tumbler.

We’re also using this countertop OXO Good Grips compost bin to collect our scraps. We empty it every couple of days, so we haven’t had any issues with flies or smell.

So now we’re just working on filling our compost tumbler. I bought a bag of compost starter on Amazon, so I’m hoping that’ll help us create our first successful batch of compost. If you compost and have any suggestions for us, please leave them in the comments. We’re still figuring this out, so we’d love advice from compost pros.

Oh, and if you want to start your own compost bin, but don’t want to spend the money on a tumbler or bother building a bin, check with your city trash program. Our city provides compost containers (modified trash bins) for only a $5 delivery fee.


  1. We just bought our neighbors composter last weekend, too!! In fact, I'm sharing ours tomorrow :). I'll have to check out the starter...we just starting throwing stuff in and crossed our fingers. Good luck!

  2. I've been composting for years. My best advice is don't sweat it. It can take anything non protein. I am told the composting organisms don't like citrus but I didn't hear that until I'd been tossing them in for about 10 years without harm (not sure why limes are singled out in that list). I once had a very elderly neighbor who would even compost leather shoes and cotton clothing! I never went that far. We try to avoid woody brush cuttings as they tend to take a very long time to compost. Mostly I try to cut up larger things into a smaller more manageable size (you'll have to do this with your compost bin)even though I had an open air significantly larger area for composting. It breaks things down faster. Oh and those organisms love sugar so if it wasn't hot enough or composting fast enough it was a great place to dump half consumed soda's after a party! I never understood how these closed tumblers kept moist enough. You can't let it dry out! Red worms are a great addition too! Good luck in your garden ventures.

    1. Thanks for all of the great tips! I would have never thought to dump leftover soda in there!

  3. Composting has happened for over 30 years in our house. Really easy. Just no oils or protein. Our garden loves the compost

  4. We have been composting for a few years now with just an old barrel we tore the bottom out of. I love gardening! :)

  5. Lucky on that find!! I've been wanting to compost forever. Still trying to convince the husband it's a good idea. Great tips and if I ever get started, I'll be using your tips for sure.

  6. You got a great deal!! We composted for the first time last year, and we ended up putting in way too many veggie/food scraps and not nearly enough of the twigs/grass/leaves, etc. So, it didn't work so well. But this year we've made it a point to add more of that stuff, and it's going great!! Good luck! It makes a HUGE difference in the garden!


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