After you have your container, it is time to start building your compost. You should have a mix of food stuffs and “brown” materials. Food stuffs include fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, and eggshells, while “brown” materials like straw, dry leaves, and shredded newspaper fill out the rest. Do not compost with dairy, diseased plants, or anything with meat or grease. These kinds of ingredients will attract animals.
Pile your container with your compost, beginning with materials like branches and leaves. As you continue to build on your compost, try to add both your food stuffs and brown materials at the same time so your compost is balanced out. Compost needs to be turned so everything stays blended and the compost gets exposed to oxygen. You can use a rake, pitchfork, or even a compost aerator (available for $20 or less) every 1-2 weeks. Make sure the compost is moist.
You’ll know your compost is done when it resembles a dark soil and you can’t tell individual ingredients from each other. It should also smell a little sweet, like a good, rich soil. The composting process can take 3-12 months depending on what stuff you’ve used, how warm the climate is, and so on. To use, simply add it to the soil you use for your garden or potted plants.