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Backyard Composting for Newbies – It’s Easy!

Post Date:11/05/2019 2:26 PM

The following story by Environmental Community Outreach Manager Jennifer Wilster appeared in the summer 2019 issue of Conservation News. Jennifer describes her first steps at composting and finds out how easy and rewarding it can be. 

Too hard. So many steps. It would need to be done just right to work. It might attract rats. These were some of the things I thought about before my husband Steve and I took the plunge into backyard composting a few months ago. I’m the environmental community outreach manager, for crying out loud, so I thought I should really get on board with this. Since taking the plunge, I can tell you it’s been easy. Well, easy for me. Steve built our composter from scrap pallets, with cinder blocks on the bottom and chicken wire around it. Then he started the compost base with lots of “browns” — that is dried out leaves, hay and some small card board pieces.

Then we started adding “greens.” We make dinner at home most nights and instead of throwing the vegetable and fruit scraps into the garbage we have a container in the kitchen we put them in. We add the coffee and tea grounds we scrape out of our pods. Then it all goes into the compost pile. How about the lovely flowers I got from my son for Mother’s Day? Sure. Why not? When they wilted, off they went too.

We occasionally water the pile when it hasn’t rained for a while and turn it with a pitch fork. All this is kind of fun as we are able to see the progress and feel like environmental super heroes.

A good thing I’ve discovered is it doesn’t smell bad at all — if anything, maybe a little earthy —  and we haven’t seen it attracting any vermin. 

We hope to have some rich product before long that we (he) can shovel out and place around some of our plants, trees and in the vegetable garden. Then we’ll wait for the fruits of our labor (hee hee — see what I did there with the fruit reference) as we watch them burst out even more with all the wonderful “food” they will be getting.

If, like me, you are intimidated but want to give it a try go for it and make it easy like we did. No over thinking allowed. Plus, you can make it even easier by getting one already made from a hardware store or online. You can enter “composting IFAS” into a search bar for lots more information. How’s that for easy?!

If you’d like to get more stories like this one from the City of Melbourne’s Public Works & Utilities Department, e-mail for a free subscription to our newsletters: Conservation News and PW/Utilities Connection. 

$50 Rebates for City of Melbourne Residents 

For a limited time, the city is offering customers who live within the city limits of Melbourne up to a $50 rebate for purchasing and installing a composter that has at least a 30-gallon capacity. Read more about the Composter Rebate Program or contact the Environmental Community Outreach (ECO) Division at (321) 608-5080 or

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