How to Use a Composter

Agrarian, Garden & Growing, How-To, Learn, Make

This guide to homemade compost comes courtesy of Daron Joffe, a.k.a. Farmer D of Farmer D Organics. The company develops and sells environmentally conscious farm and garden products, empowering people to grow their own food. 


Calling all you chefs out there (and everyone else wielding high-quality knives to make picture-perfect delectables): You’re leaving money on the table if you’re throwing away your food scraps during meal prep. Those mango peels and kale spines could be doing double duty by nourishing your kitchen garden (or, shall we say, potager) as nutrient-rich compost.


I know about this because I’m a seasoned farmer (as in, I’ve been growing in all seasons for years now) who uses biodynamic and organic growing practices. I’m Farmer D of Farmer D Organics, a featured company in the Williams-Sonoma Agrarian collection. I know that to grow good, healthy food, it all comes down to the soil, which expresses itself as a subtle essence or even sometimes a full-bodied richness in the finished meals (rather like terroir with wine).


I am so addicted to the highest quality compost I can find that I actually created my own, utilizing green waste from natural grocery stores in the southeast United States plus agricultural waste from heritage crops infused with soil-enlivening biodynamic preparations.


I also make it easy — and attractive — for you to make your own compost with your own high-quality kitchen waste. The Farmer D Organics cedar composter is handmade in our metro-Atlanta woodshop, right next to our retail shop and backyard garden (complete with heritage-breed chickens).


Here are some tips on assembling and using the composter:

  • The wood should be in the back, screen on the sides, and slats on the front, with the “Farmer D” one on top facing out, hinged roof. All holes are pre-drilled and hardware is included.
  • Put the composter in a location a bit out of the way in your yard, but still easily accessible. Don’t get too hung up on how much sun or rain it gets (although it needs both) — compost happens. Adjusting the variables just helps to speed it up.
  • Make sure you have more “browns” (leaves are your best bet here) than “greens” (such as kitchen scraps and garden clippings) and that you bury the kitchen scraps and don’t include meats or fats to avoid attracting critters.
  • Toss the whole gig once a month or so to aerate and encourage decomposition. Removing the slats on the front of the composter makes this easy; then, simply dig your shovel close to the ground to remove some finished compost as you need it. You know it’s finished when it’s black, crumbly, and sweet smelling.
  • Add the compost to your garden beds and put all those fancy food scraps right back where you want them — into growing more good food for you.


Leave comments on this post with your questions, and check back in each week as I share more tips for growing great food. Bon appetit!

3 comments about “How to Use a Composter

  1. Farmer D

    Hi Linda,
    Critters could sneak in there but if you keep your food residuals tucked in the middle of the pile that will reduce the chance of rodents and other animals. Also, you can make it harder for critters by keeping the pile moist and packed in (pack down using back of digging fork or shovel, or jump in there and dance on the pile:). I suggest throwing the garden and yard refuse along the sides of the bin leaving a donut hole in the middle for the food stuffs and then cover with at least 4-6″ of garden and yard refuse (leaves, grass clippings, etc…) This helps hide the food residuals and reduces odor that could attract critters. Happy Composting!!

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