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"The Complete Idiot's Guide to Composting" Will Make You a Compost Genius

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating


The Bottom Line

A very well-written book, perfect for anyone new to composting. If you've been putting off starting that compost pile you need this book -- a great introduction to composting that's sure to make you want to get out and "create more Earth."
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  • Very straightforward, easy-to-understand explanation of the science behind compost.
  • Author does an excellent job of addressing and breaking many myths about composting.
  • Coverage of mulch and cover crops - related topics usually ignored in most books about compost.
  • "The Least You Need to Know" feature at the end of each chapter summarizes important information.
  • Very thorough introduction to vermicomposting.


  • A longer discussion about indoor composting options would have been useful.


  • Topics in this book include: the science of composting, what to put in a compost pile, hot vs. cold composting, maintenance.
  • The book also covers ways to use your compost in your garden.
  • Worm composting, as well as several other innovative composting methods are covered, so there are several options.

Guide Review - "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Composting" Will Make You a Compost Genius

If you're looking for a quick, encouraging introduction to composting, "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Composting" by Chris McLaughlin is a great place to start. The author's light, often humorous take on composting sets a wonderful tone for the book, and is sure to be welcome to anyone who is intimidated by the idea of composting. In direct opposition to many books and articles on the subject, McLaughlin makes it clear that compost is really not that complicated -- in fact, "it's only fourth grade science" -- hardly the "rocket science" that some authors make it out to be.

"The Complete Idiot's Guide to Composting" is well organized, and it's very easy to locate the information you're looking for. The book covers the science of decomposition, items to add to a compost pile, what not to add to a compost pile, different types of bins, hot vs. cold composting, vermicomposting, sheet composting (or lasagna gardening, or, as the author calls it, "making compost sandwiches"), grasscycling, mulching, and green manures (as well as several other topics!)

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