Good compost is expensive, but easy to make.
It is fantastic for your soil, and great for the environment.
All you need is patience and motivation.
I will outline all of the steps for making the best compost ever right here.

Step 0:  Find a suitable place outside for at least two compost piles. Leave
about a 5′ x 5′ footprint for each.  This is a *minimum* pile size for home
composting to work. Under trees is ideal, to keep the moisture in on hot days,
and to keep excessive rain out on wet days.

Step 1: Start with your kitchen scraps.

Kitchen Waste

Kitchen Waste: "Wet" Material

We’ll call this “wet material.”

Step 2:  You’ll also need an equal amount
(or up twice as much) of
“dry” material–you can use straw,
dried grass, dried leaves.

Bunny's Toilet

Bunny's Toilet: "Dry" Material

I use my bunny’s toilet material (Carefresh cardboard pellets), dry Timothy straw (what he hasn’t eaten, by the time we change his toilet), and his droppings.

Step 3:  Add to your compost pile *daily*.
This  avoids any odors in the kitchen.
Add equal amounts of “dry” and “wet”
materials. Keep adding to your “raw”
pile, until it is 4ft-5ft. tall. This may take
months, if you’re a small household.

Kitchen Compost

Kitchen Compost Pile

Step 4:  Keep the pile not too wet, and not too dry.
There is an optimum moisture
level that needs to be maintained for optimal
composting.  If it’s hot and dry outside, you
may need to water your compost pile, just
as you’d water your lawn or garden, to keep
the compost pile from drying out. If it’s raining,
cover your compost with burlap bags used to
ship organic coffee (you can get these from
you local organic coffee shop). Organic is
crucial here, since “conventional” coffee is
fumigated upon arrival to port with poisons you
do not want in your compost! If worse comes to
worse, you can also use plastic tarp for a covering
during heavy rains. Should your compost get too
wet, turn it over with a pitch-fork, in order to aereate it.

Turned Kitchen Compost Pile

Turned Kitchen Compost Pile

Alternative to Steps 2-4: Weed compost
Just create your weed pile.

Raw Weed Compost Pile

"Raw" Weed Compost Pile

Step 5:  Once your “raw” pile has accumulated enough material
to become about 3-4ft. tall, on a 5’x5′ or 4’x4′ base, just
use a pitchfork to transfer it to your second, or “intermediate”
pile.  The “raw” materials will now lie on the bottom,
with the semi-composted materials on top.  Leave this pile
alone, covered, no longer adding to it, maintaining its
moisture level. Let this pile alone for many months.
Your compost will be ready once it has the consistency (and
moisture level) of good soil.
Don’t be surprised, your pile will shrink to ~1/4 (or less) of its original size.

Weed Compost Done

Finished Weed Compost

Step 6: (Optional) You may sift your compost through hardware cloth
1/2-inch x 1/2-inch square galvanized metal screen.

Sifted Compost

Sifted Compost

The Finished Product:  Black Gold!

Compost Containers and Structures

Indoor kitchen waste containers:  You can use anything from a milk carton to fancy, expensive metal compost containers kitchen supply stores will willingly sell to you.  I use a 5-gallon paint bucket, large enough for my rabbit’s toilet and kitchen scraps.

Outdoor “raw” compost container:

Raw Compost Container

Outdoor Container for Compost

The primary goal of an outdoor container is to keep animals (birds, dogs, rats, mice, gophers, moles, foxes, raccoons, squirrels, opossum) out of your compost. A secondary benefit is allowing the pile to build up, instead of spreading out.  You *must* allow plenty of air circulation.  This picture shows the structure my husband built, and of which he is very proud. The bottom, sides, and top use galvanized, wire screen, so digging and burrowing animals can’t get in. A rope attached to a pulley pulls the top up, allowing me to add fresh material from the top. I can also water the compost right through the container with a garden hose.  The left side is removable (slides up and out), to allow the pile to be transferred (= turned).

Expensive, closed, plastic containers are a bad idea.  I tried one once (paid $300) while living in an apartment complex. Although I turned the thing daily,  at the end I wound up with a wet, stinky, gloppy, mess.

 Outdoor “Intermediate” or “Turned” Compost Container:

Compost Container

Outdoor Container for "Turned" Compost

This is the container my husband built for our once-turned compost pile.    “Once turned” means transferred from the raw pile with the most recently added material on the bottom, the oldest material on top. The container’s chief purpose, again, is to keep birds and lizards  (who adore the bugs and worms), and cats (who love the lizards) out. It has no wire mesh on the bottom, since burrowing and digging creatures are not interested in this stage of material.  Note the volunteer squash plant (from a seed in the kitchen waste), which also adores the half-finished compost.

Compost Sifter/Finished Compost Container:

Compost Sifter: Front View

Compost Sifter: Front View

Since not everything composts at a uniform rate, I find it useful to
sift our compost. This is the front view of the compost sifter my husband built.  The wooden gate swings open, allowing me access to the finished product.

Compost Sifter:  Back View

Compost Sifter: Back View

All you really need  is “hardware cloth”  (1/2-in. x 1/2-in.  square galvanized metal screen material) for sifting.  However, this sifter makes it easier for me to sift the relatively large amounts of compost (a dozen 5-gallon buckets at a time) that we use in our 10 growing beds, for starts, and in our planters.

Sifter after use

Sifter after Use

The sifter structure also serves as a wonderful outdoor storage bin for sifted, ready-to-use,  aka “finished” compost.  Make sure you  keep your finished compost covered with a tarp or burlap, so it does not lose its vital moisture!