Truly messing up your compost is hard to do. Throw organic matter in a pile outdoors and it will break down eventually, even if you never look at it again. “There’s no right way to compost,” says Rick Carr, compost expert at the Rodale Institute’s organic farm. “I’ll never tell someone they’re composting wrong, or insist that a 75-year-old needs to go out and turn her compost pile twice a year with a pitchfork.”
(Whether you're starting your first garden or switching to organic, Rodale’s Basic Organic Gardening has all the answers and advice you need—get your copy today!)
But if you want to save yourself some trouble with pests while making compost that’s richer in nutrients and easier to maintain, Carr is your go-to guy. Here's what he says people commonly do that can cause problems, and how to fix it.