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What is Compost?

Benefits of Composting

Using Finished Compost

Compost & Nutrition


Composting Systems

Siting Your Compost Area



What to Compost

Stages of Composting

The Carbon:Nitrogen Ratio

Compost Activators

Turning Your Compost


Quick Start Guide

The Add-as-you-go Pile

The Batch Pile

Grass Clippings

Food Scraps

Leaves, Weeds &
Garden Debris

Compost Tea

Worm Composting


Troubleshooting Guide

Ask Professor Rot



Professor Rot says:

One of the best strategies in home composting is PLAN AHEAD!

Stockpiling certain organic materials, especially leaves and food scraps will allow you to make a Batch Pile.


Stockpiling organic materials for composting is an important strategy in creating a good compost pile. People fairly new to home composting soon discover that they may not have enough materials to make a compost pile all at once, what is called a Batch Pile (also known as "hot or active" composting). As a consequence, they may be just as happy composting using the Add-as-You-Go method (also called "dump-and-run, cold or passive" composting). This latter method is what most people do anyway, but stockpiling a few items, especially leaves, will make even this method a little more successful.

Seasoned veterans to composting know how to PLAN AHEAD. So, what are they specifically "planning ahead" for?

The answer is:  GREEN and BROWN organic materials!

If you want to brush up on what is meant by GREEN and BROWN, go to
The Carbon:Nitrogen Ratio. Here you will learn that part of the science and art of composting is using balanced quantities of nitrogen-rich materials (GREENs) and carbonaceous materials (BROWNs).

leavesWondering what to do with all those leaves beneath your tree? Certainly, DO NOT take them to the landfill! What about extra garden debris or food scraps? Not to the landfill either!

Stockpiling materials is not laden with mystery. Basically, what you are wanting to do is create a holding area or holding bin for your raw materials. It is easy to do this, and so are the instructions below.




Store in a covered pile or bagged

Weeds & manure

Store in a holding bin or under a tarp

Grass clippings Store in a holding bin (not in plastic bags) with good air circulation
Other Yard waste Store in a holding bin or under a tarp
Food scraps Store in a 4-5 gallon bucket with a secure lid

Bags of leaves bags of leaves bags of leaves




stockpile leavesIdeally, place your holding bin near your compost bin. It need not be fancy or rodent proof. A circular or square bin made from chicken wire or field fencing is popular, as shown in the picture to the left.




pallet bin


Scrap lumber, doors or wooden pallets can be nailed together, like the bins to the right. Make sure the bin has easy access and can be covered (a couple bins are good!).




holey composter


An excellent holding bin is made from a durable plastic sheet with holes, as seen in the photo. It is called the Presto Hoop. It is sold commerically at fine garden centers, on the internet (Green Culture), or possibly at your local waste management district.


If you are coming up short on ideas for a holding bin, then simply cover your material with a plastic tarp.







  • Food scrap bucketEmpty food scraps from a small kitchen container into a larger tightly-lidded pail. A 4-5 gallon (3-5 Imperial) size is good for storage.

food bucket lid

  • A few layers of newspaper inside of the lid will discourage flies. Don't worry about liquid inside the pail; it is caused from scraps beginning to decompose. This "compost tea" can be poured into your bin.

food scrap pail

  • When adding fresh scraps to pail, dust top of scraps with finished compost (a little soil if you have no compost), sawdust, peat moss or rock dust to control odors or flies.
  • When the food scrap pail is full, it can be used to start a Batch Pile. You may even desire to stockpile several of these types of pails full of food scraps (with secure lids) over a period of weeks or more. These, too, can be used in a Batch Pile as you layer the GREENs and BROWNs.


CAUTION:  It is unwise to throw a full pail of food scraps into an Add-as-You-Go Pile unless you have planned to add an equal amount of BROWNs such as leaves, etc. The food scraps are a strong nitrogen (GREEN) source and a sudden large influx may cause odor or fly problems in your compost bin.

Never throw food scraps on the top of any compost pile without covering them well with a 2-3 inch layer of BROWN material. This is called "sealing the pile."


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