If you are looking for way to easily compost your kitchen and garden waste and aren’t in a hurry for matured compost then this is a great option for you. It does require some planning though so read on!

The Add As You Go Pile: Cold/Passive Composting

The add-as-you-go method is the easiest way to make your own compost, and the best composting method for beginners.

As the name suggests, you will be adding your GREEN and BROWN materials to your pile as your kitchen and garden generates them. As your pile grows you will be turning/mixing you pile every week or so in order to ensure even decomposition and adequate airflow.

This means your compost will take longer to decompose – around 3-8 months, depending on the weather – as it won’t be generating as much heat as a hot composting method; where you gather all your materials and create one big pile which you then monitor and turn frequently as it reaches 68 degrees Celcius. This method is far more intensive and requires daily monitoring but it has the benefit of taking much less time (3-6 weeks, longer in winter).

The other benefit of hot composting is that due to the high temperatures it generates, weed seeds, plant diseases and fungal infections are all killed. For this reason, never add diseased plants or weed seeds to your add-as-you-go-pile.

Add Layers as Your Kitchen and Garden Generate Them © Steve Masley

Materials are layered onto the pile when on hand. Chopping whole plants into smaller pieces increases surface area, speeds decomposition, makes turning the pile easier, and results in a finer-textured finished compost.

The pile is kept covered, to keep it from drying out, or getting saturated in a heavy rain. The piled is turned every 1-2 weeks to mix things up and encourage even decomposition, as it will often get warmer in the middle than around the edges.

A second pile is started, and new materials are added only to the second pile. By the time the second pile has reached full size, the first pile has broken down enough to start using in the garden.



  • Get to know your BROWNS (Carbon rich materials) and GREENS (Nitrogen rich materials) so you know what to add and what not to add to your compost pile.
  • Alternate brown and green materials as best you can and remember the Carbon Nitrogen Ratio.
  • Always cover food scraps with a layer of “brown material” to avoid a smelly situation that attracts flies, gnats, rodents etc
  • Most people who compost using the Add-as-You-Go method are regularly adding daily kitchen waste to the pile; therefore, a little stockpile of BROWN material is beneficial to have around.
  • Dry out fresh grass clippings, weeds without seeds and leaves, such as comfrey. If you seem to be disposing too many Greens and not enough Browns, this method increases the carbon richness of grass clipping, weeds and leaves. Never stockpile grass clippings in plastic bags: this will create a soggy, smelly mess, which we don’t want.
  • To help speed up the decomposition rate, chop your materials into small bits – so they have more surface area – before adding it to you pile.
  • Adequate air and moisture are two essential components of Composting. Moisten your pile with chemical free grey water. You can check the pile’s temperature by thrusting your hand into the pile to feel its warmth, or lack thereof. Remember to wash your hands afterwards!
  • Make it a habit to turn your pile weekly or so. Otherwise, you might find that you are dumping more GREENS than BROWNS into the bin, clearly one of the most common causes of smelly compost, squishy contents, and low heat build-up.
  • Use an Activator to help heat/speed things up, such as comfrey leaves, manures and seed meals.
  • Mix in used coffee grinds, considered a GREEN material with your BROWN material for added anti-fungal properties and nitrogen.

From Home Composting Made Easy by C. Forrest McDowell, PhD & Tricia Clark-McDowell

Till Next Time,

Happy Composting!

Shireen & Kathy



Home Composting Made Easy

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