4 Ways to Get More Compost

Fine Gardening – Issue 213
get more compost
1. Photo: courtesy of Paul Zammit

My grandmother taught me that you cannot just take from a garden; you must always give back and care for the soil. This is a lesson I apply to any garden that I tend. No matter the soil type, adding organic matter will improve soil structure and make more nutrients available to plants.

Topping soil with a generous amount of compost will improve it over time. Clay soil will become more workable and better draining, while sandy soil will develop better moisture-retaining capacity. The addition of organic matter needs to happen on a regular basis—at least once a year. As I have witnessed, once this practice stops, clay-based soil reverts back to heavy clay and sandy soil reverts back to being lean and sandy.

Here are a few ways you can secure that essential organic matter.

1. Start a compost system

Multiple bins make the process even more efficient. Depending on your budget, you can build your own setup with recycled pallets, or buy a complete system.

2. Get to know a farmer

close up of a goat
Photo: Visivasnc/

If a friend or community member keeps livestock, ask for some manure. Well-composted manure is an excellent source of organic matter.

3. Chop and drop

small branches and stems cut to small pieces
Photo: courtesy of Paul Zammit

Rather than taking all your garden debris to the compost bin, consider chopping small branches and stems into smaller pieces and leaving them in the garden to break down.

4. Leave the leaves

using shredded fallen leaves as mulch
Photo: courtesy of Paul Zammit

Free organic matter drifts down from the treetops each autumn. Collect leaves from the lawn or from a neighbor who might be discarding them. Shred them and add them to the compost bin, or use them as a moisture-retaining mulch.


More on creating great compost

Get Started in Composting

How to Make Great Compost

Building a Compost Bin


Paul Zammit is a professor of sustainable horticulture at Niagara College in southern Ontario.

View Comments


  1. milaniagreendevald 10/24/2023

    Every owner of a garden plot is faced with the problem of disposing of garden residues. Proper organization of a composter on the site solves not only the problem of waste disposal, but also provides especially valuable organic fertilizer - compost. Of course, there can always be an additional problem - flies in compost bins. I advise you to learn more about how to get rid of them here

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