How to get soil from composting

January 26, 2015

Need soil for your garden? Do it yourself by composting! Here's how to get started building your own DIY soil.

How to get soil from composting

To compost your own soil, all you need are vegetable and fruit scraps, a little space and a pitchfork. Or, if you want to get fancy and have better soil more quickly, add some worms and a box for them to live in. Here's how to do it yourself.

The pitchfork method

It's pretty easy to start but takes more maintenance over time, and you might want to check city ordinances before getting started with this one.

  • The compost pile is open to the air and is, as the name suggests, a pile, so neighbours might complain and you could be violating local laws,
  • To be sure to check with your city before taking this route.

Vermicomposting with a worm bin

This method takes a small amount of upfront work and the maintenance is minimal. It's great for any location as it's discrete and aesthetically pleasing in suburban areas. To get started, find a shallow container such as an old dresser drawer or a long and shallow under-the-bed storage bins. Drill holes in the bottom for drainage, and in the sides for oxygen flow. If you're using a bin, keep the lid as is.

The lid will sit gently on top, or you could also place it underneath to catch the nutrient-rich worm castings, which you can dilute and add to your soil as they drain out. For both examples, cover (but don't enclose) the worm bin with something that sits loosely. Then, soak about six inches worth of shredded newspapers until fully saturated, wring them out, and lay them in as bedding.

Moisture management for smells

In either case, if the compost has begun to smell, check the moisture content. If there's excess water, add straw or newspaper. If it's pretty dry, use a spray bottle to add some moisture.

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