Direct composting in pots | Step by Step Guide

Direct composting in pots starts with washing and disinfecting your garden pots. Find an area that is out of the way and dig a small hole the size of the pot. Backfill around the pot and fill it with food scraps, coffee grounds and dry fall leaves. Place a lid on top of the pot to keep pests out and you will have compost in 3-6 months.

Direct composting in pots – Step-by-step

  1. Wash and disinfect your garden pot.
  2. Choose an area of the garden that is out of the way that no one will walk on.
  3. Dig a hole in the soil the size of the pot in the soil.
  4. Place the garden pot in the hole and backfill the soil around the sides of the pot.
  5. Fill the pot with a mix of food scraps, fall leaves and straw or sugar cane mulch.
  6. Mix the ingredients together and place a piece of cardboard, bowl or a pot tray on top to cover.

These are my steps for the simplest way to compost in a pot. For a larger version, check out the video below.

Making compost in a pot buried in the ground is the easiest way to make a small compost in your garden that will take very little effort. I have placed my composting pot inside a garden bed where no one will walk.

My old garden pot filled with food scraps including egg shells, coffee grinds, green leafy vegetables and sugar cane mulch.

Water will naturally drain through the bottom of the pot and fertilize your soil. You can also lift the pot out of the ground and add the compost to another area of your garden or simply backfill the hole with the compost and move your pot somewhere else.

Benefits of composting in pots

Here are the top benefits and reasons why composting in pots is an easy, affordable and simple way to compost at home.

  • Take up less space than a regular compost bin
  • Can be placed in the ground or raised garden beds
  • Break down quickly
  • Naturally attracts worms
  • Easy to manage because they are small
  • Low maintenance
  • Low cost
  • Add liquid nutrients to the soil when it rains
  • You can add worms to for a simple worm farm
  • Less kitchen waste will head to landfill
  • Create a closed loop system at home

Composting in pots can be your first step to creating a sustainable, closed loop system in your backyard. As you begin to grow your own food, you can return any scraps to your compost pot to break down to feed the soil.

This compost will then help you to grow new fruit and vegetables. This is the beginnings of a closed loop gardening system and it can be all started with a humble garden pot and composting.

Sit a container near your sink in your kitchen to easily collect food scraps for your compost.

Direct composting using a worm pot composter

The easiest way to start composting in your garden is to direct compost into a worm composter. These pots are pre-made to easily bury in your backyard. They are pre-drilled with drainage holes and have a tight fitting lid.

You do not need to add worms to your compost pot to successfully break down food scraps. Just fill it with your composting ingredients and you will have great compost in 3-6 months.

The benefit of using an in-ground worm composter is they have a tight fitting lid that will keep out any pests. Garden pots are more difficult to cover because they don’t have a lid so you have to make do with what you can find at home.

Worms will be attracted to your compost pot from your garden soil without needing to add worms yourself.

Direct composting in pots in raised beds    

Direct composting pots will fit neatly in the corner of your raised garden bed and you can come back and lift the lid easily to add food scraps from your kitchen. Choose a small pot if you only have a small garden bed so it takes up less space.

What to put in your composting pot

Place natural ingredients into your composting pot from your kitchen and garden. Here are my favorite ingredients for compost pots.

Adding a handful of pelleted chicken manure is also a great idea as it will kick start the microbial growth to break down your compost faster. It will also add extra nutrients so you finished compost will be even richer and more nutrient dense for your garden.

Dig a hole in your soil the size of your pot and backfill it around the edges to the soil level.

What to avoid putting in your compost pot

  • Meat
  • Dairy products
  • Bread and biscuits
  • Cat or dog feces
  • Plants that have disease or fungus growth
  • Fats or oils
Fill your composting pot with food scraps, coffee grinds and brown material like fall leaves, hay or straw.

Direct composting straight into the soil

To directly compost straight into your garden bed you can simply dig a small hole or trench and place a mix of ingredients to break down into compost. Here is my step by step method below.

  1. Choose an area of your garden bed away from plant roots.
  2. Rake back mulch to reveal the garden soil.
  3. Use a spade to dig a small trench or hole that is at least 10 inches wide and 10 inches deep.
  4. Fill the hole to the top with a mix of food scraps, fall leaves, straw, hay or sugar cane mulch.
  5. Cover the top of the mix with soil to bring it back to the level of your garden bed.
  6. Cover with mulch.

This method of composting is often described as trench composting where food scraps are composted directly into garden soil. With this method, as the compost ingredients break down the soil level can drop slightly.

This is easily fixed by raking back mulch and topping with more garden soil or compost. This method of composting an way to compost food scraps in your backyard.

The key is to mix the green and brown ingredients first before putting it in the hole. Green ingredients include coffee grounds, grass clippings and food scraps. Brown ingredients include hay, straw, fall leaves or sugar cane mulch.

Keep the green ingredients to around 1/3 of the mix and 2/3 brown and your compost mix will be perfect.

Cover your composting pot with a small bowl, pot tray or cardboard. Remember that cardboard will break down over time and need to be replaced.

Composting in garden pots – summary

The simplest way to start composting at home can be to bury a garden pot into your soil. I like to put a cardboard lid on the top of the pot and fill it with food scraps and a handful of sugar cane mulch as I make my dinners throughout the week.

If you are new to composting, start with a small garden pot to learn the basics of the art of composting.

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