Composting on a Budget

Composting is an effective and environmentally friendly way to turn your food waste and yard debris into nutrient-dense soil for your garden.

But, many people are apprehensive about starting a compost bin because they believe it’s too expensive or time-consuming.

In this blog post, I will share my tips for composting on a budget, so that you can experience the bountiful benefits of composting while still sticking to your budget.

Let’s get started!

The Basics of Composting

Composting is the process of breaking down organic materials into a nutrient-rich soil amendment. This is achieved by creating the ideal conditions for naturally occurring microorganisms to thrive and break down the materials. Composting is a great way to reduce waste, improve soil quality, and grow healthier plants.

There are two main types of composting: hot and cold. Hot composting involves actively managing the compost pile to keep it at a high temperature, which accelerates the breakdown of materials. Cold composting, on the other hand, doesn’t require as much management and can take longer to produce usable compost, but it’s still a great method for composting.

To make sure your composting is successful, you need to provide the right materials. Your compost bin should have a mix of carbon-rich materials (such as dry leaves, straw, and shredded paper) and nitrogen-rich materials (such as grass clippings, food scraps, and manure). A good rule of thumb is to aim for a carbon-to-nitrogen ratio of 30:1.

It’s important to ensure a good balance of carbon-rich and nitrogen-rich materials to create the right environment for microorganisms. If you have too much nitrogen-rich material, you’ll end up with a slimy, smelly mess. If you have too much carbon-rich material, the compost pile won’t heat up enough to break down the materials.

By creating a compost pile with the right balance of materials and using the appropriate method, you’ll be able to create nutrient-rich soil for your garden while reducing waste at the same time.

Planning Your Composting Bin

Choosing the right composting bin is an important step when you’re starting to compost. There are many different types of composting bins available, from simple DIY options to more complex commercial models. The right choice for you will depend on your specific needs and budget.

First, consider the location where you want to place the bin. It should be in a spot that’s easily accessible, but also out of the way. You don’t want your compost to be an eyesore or in a place where it might be disturbed by pets or wildlife.

Next, decide on the type of bin you want to build or buy. A simple and budget-friendly option is a wire mesh bin, which you can easily construct yourself with some hardware cloth and zip ties. Another affordable option is a wooden pallet bin, which can be constructed for free if you can find pallets.

If you prefer a commercial bin, there are many options available. Look for options with good ventilation and drainage, and consider the size you need based on your household’s compost output. Some options can even be tumbled easily to help speed up the composting process.

Finally, once you’ve chosen your compost bin type, it’s time to build or buy your bin. There are many tutorials available online to help you construct a budget-friendly bin, or you can purchase a pre-made bin from a garden supply store.

Remember to choose a compost bin that will work for your specific needs and budget. Whether you’re building a simple DIY option or investing in a more expensive model, a well-chosen bin will help make your composting process successful.

Collecting Materials for Composting

Composting requires a good balance of carbon-rich and nitrogen-rich materials. Carbon-rich materials include dry leaves, sawdust, shredded newspaper, and cardboard. Nitrogen-rich materials include food scraps, grass clippings, and coffee grounds.

When collecting materials for composting, it’s important to keep in mind what can and cannot be composted. Items that should not be composted include meat, dairy products, and pet waste.

You can collect materials from your own yard and kitchen, or you can get materials from other sources. Local farms and gardening centers may have compost materials available for purchase. You can also check with your local municipality to see if they offer composting services.

In addition, there are many free sources of compost materials. Some examples include coffee shops, which often have coffee grounds available for free, and tree trimming services, which may have wood chips or leaves available for pickup.

Remember, it’s important to balance the carbon-rich and nitrogen-rich materials in your compost bin. A good ratio to aim for is three parts carbon-rich materials to one part nitrogen-rich materials.

By collecting the right materials and achieving the proper balance, you can create a healthy and effective compost pile.

Maintaining Your Composting Bin

Maintaining your composting bin is crucial to ensure that your waste is efficiently broken down into rich compost. Here are some tips to keep your composting bin healthy:

Adding the Right Amount of Materials

When adding materials to your bin, make sure to follow the right ratio of carbon-rich and nitrogen-rich materials. The ideal ratio should be 3 parts brown (carbon-rich) to 1 part green (nitrogen-rich) materials. Too much of one material can lead to odor issues and slow down the composting process. Remember to chop up any large materials into small pieces to speed up the composting process.

Managing the Compost Pile

To keep your compost pile healthy, you need to manage it properly. Turn the pile at least once a week to aerate it and add oxygen. Too little oxygen can lead to anaerobic conditions, causing a foul odor. You can use a pitchfork or a compost aerator to turn the pile. Make sure that the pile is not too wet. If it is, the pile can become slimy and smelly. On the other hand, if it is too dry, the composting process will slow down.

Watering the Compost

During dry weather, you need to water your compost pile periodically. Make sure not to overwater as this can lead to anaerobic conditions. Spray water on the compost pile and mix it well to moisten all the materials.

Keeping Pests Away

Just like any other garden area, compost piles can attract pests such as rats, mice, and other critters. To keep these pests away, avoid adding meat, dairy, and other animal products to the pile. Cover the pile with a tarp or a piece of carpet to keep pests out. Avoid using pesticides as it can kill the microbes that break down the materials in the compost pile. Consider using natural pest control methods such as companion planting and using beneficial insects.

By following these tips, you can maintain a healthy composting bin and produce nutrient-rich compost for your garden.

Harvesting and Using Compost

Knowing when your compost is ready is crucial for reaping its many benefits. Once your compost has turned into a dark, crumbly soil-like substance, it is ready to harvest. This process can take anywhere from two to six months depending on the type of composting method you used and the materials you used.

To harvest your compost, you can either use a compost sifter to separate the larger pieces of uncomposted matter from the rich soil, or you can simply scoop the finished compost out of the bottom of your composting bin.

When it comes to using your compost, the possibilities are endless. Use it to amend your soil, topdress your lawn, or mulch your flower beds. The nutrient-rich soil will help improve soil fertility and promote healthy plant growth.

I suggest starting slowly by using small amounts of compost in your garden or pots to see the results and determine how it affects the growth and health of your plants. You will be amazed by how using your homemade compost can improve your garden and help you save both time and money.

Troubleshooting Common Composting Problems

If you’re having issues with your compost, don’t worry – it’s a common problem, and there are plenty of solutions. One of the most common problems is a bad odor. If your compost is smelling bad, it could be too wet or not getting enough air. Try turning the compost more often or adding some dry material to the pile. You can also add activated charcoal to help absorb the smell.

Another issue you may encounter is pests. To prevent pests, make sure you’re not adding any meat or dairy products to your compost, and cover your compost bin with a tight-fitting lid. If you’re already dealing with pests, try using a natural pesticide like food-grade diatomaceous earth to keep them at bay.

If your compost isn’t breaking down, it could be due to a lack of nitrogen. Add more nitrogen-rich materials to the mix, such as grass clippings or nitrogen fertilizer. You can also try chopping up the materials into smaller pieces to speed up the process.

Remember that composting is an ongoing process, and it may take some time to get the hang of it. Don’t give up if you encounter some problems along the way – just keep experimenting until you find what works best for you.

Alternative Methods for Composting on a Budget

If you have limited space or resources, alternative composting methods might work better for you. Here are three methods you can try:


This method uses worms to break down your food scraps and turn them into compost. You can set up a worm bin indoors or outdoors, as long as the temperature stays between 55°F and 80°F. Worms can eat their weight in food scraps every day, making them highly efficient composters. You can use red wiggler worms for vermiculture. These worms can be purchased online or at a garden supply store.

Composting on the go

Do you live in an apartment or have limited outdoor space? Consider composting on the go. This means you can compost your food scraps in a small container and then drop them off at a composting site. Some cities have curbside or drop-off composting programs that will do the hard work for you. Plus, it’s a great way to reduce your carbon footprint while giving back to the community.

Trench composting

Trench composting is a method for outdoor composting that involves burying food scraps directly in your garden. Simply dig a trench 8-12 inches deep and bury your food scraps. If you have a large amount of food scraps, you can dig several trenches. Over time, the scraps will break down and enrich the soil. This method saves you the hassle of turning the pile and makes use of the natural processes taking place in the soil.

Trying out some of these alternative composting methods can be a fun and low-cost way to reduce waste and enrich your soil.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, composting is a simple and effective way to reduce the amount of waste you produce and improve the health of your garden or yard.

By following the tips and strategies outlined in this post, you can get started with composting on a budget and reap all the benefits that it has to offer.

So, which strategy from today’s post are you going to try first?

I would love to hear from you, so send me a message and let me know!

And if you found this post helpful, please consider sharing it on social media so that others can benefit from it as well.

Thanks for reading!

Author: Scott Sanders


All the information on this website - - is published in good faith and for general information purpose only. Planet 997 does not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability and accuracy of this information. Any action you take upon the information you find on this website (Planet 997), is strictly at your own risk. Planet 997 will not be liable for any losses and/or damages in connection with the use of our website.

From our website, you can visit other websites by following hyperlinks to such external sites. While we strive to provide only quality links to useful and ethical websites, we have no control over the content and nature of these sites. These links to other websites do not imply a recommendation for all the content found on these sites. Site owners and content may change without notice and may occur before we have the opportunity to remove a link which may have gone 'bad'.

Please be also aware that when you leave our website, other sites may have different privacy policies and terms which are beyond our control. Please be sure to check the Privacy Policies of these sites as well as their "Terms of Service" before engaging in any business or uploading any information.

By using our website, you hereby consent to our disclaimer and agree to its terms.

Some of the links on this page may be affiliate links. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same, but we will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated and helps us keep going!
Copyright © 2023 Planet 997