Containers should have lids and also a simple way to remove the compost from the bin.
Simple composting consists of piling up leaves, grass clippings and other garden waste, along with the vegetable matter from your kitchen garbage and allowing them to decompose. Containers can be purchased, or constructed out of wire mesh, or with wood slats, that allow air circulation. Air circulation is crucial to the decomposition process. Containers should have lids and also a simple way to remove the compost from the bin.
In the city, most people want a compost pile enclosed, to keep it tidy and inconspicuous. This can be as simple as wooden slats, with spaces between for air circulation,or chicken wire, supported by wooden fence posts at the corners. There are also plastic compost bins, made from recycled plastic, which are unobtrusive, tidy, and retain heat and moisture. Ideal size for a compost pile is about a metre (yard) cube. Many people have two bins side-by-side, so that they can add to one while the other full one is finishing the composting process. It should be in an area with good air circulation, and a sunny, warm spot will enable it to work faster, but is not absolutely necessary. In a cool, shady spot it will just take longer.
Starting a compost pile:
Start with a layer of brush cuttings from pruning, or coarse vegetable matter. Add layers of grass clippings and other fresh, green material, then layers of dry, brown material, such as sawdust, tea bags, coffee grounds or dry leaves. Manures, fertilizers, compost activators or soil will speed up decomposing assuming the pile is kept damp but not wet.
Maintaining a compost pile:
Composting requires good air circulation, the material must be damp but not wet, and there must be a layer of green, damp material and dry, brown material. The pile must be turned periodically to enable oxygen to reach the material in the centre. It should be covered if there is a lot of rain. If the compost pile has an unpleasant odor, then it is too wet. Be sure it has good drainage at the bottom, add more dry material, cover to protect from rain, and turn more frequently. You may also need to sprinkle it with water if the weather is hot and dry. The heat developing in the pile kills bacteria, and also indicates that decomposition is taking place. Cover kitchen wastes with soil or other material to avoid attracting pets and rodents. Plastic containers with lids prevent this problem.
Three container system
Depending on the volume of your garden waste, you may find the three-container system to be beneficial. In the three-container system new material is stored in the first container, decomposing material is stored in he second container, and compost is stored in the third. As the material goes though the stages of decomposition, material is forked from one bin to the next in the progression until it emerges as compost. It takes about a year for usable compost to be formed; with this system you should always have compost for using the garden. Composters can be placed on bare ground or raised on a 2x4 frame for ease of drainage. They can be in sun or shade. The warmer it is, the faster it decomposes, as long as it is always moist. If it is in the shade, it will simply take longer to decompose.