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How to Build, Maintain, and Use a Compost System Paperback – Mar 18 2011

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Publishing Group Inc (March 18 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1601383541
  • ISBN-13: 978-1601383549
  • Product Dimensions: 15.4 x 1.9 x 23 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 363 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #694,980 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

About the Author

Kelly Smith is an author, quilter, and container gardener. Her previous works include the book Open Your Heart with Quilting (Dreamtime, 2008), the magazine article Let s Play in Quilters Home magazine (Nov./Dec. 2008), and several quilt patterns for She is also the National Quilting Examiner for and writes about news and events of interest to quilters. In addition to non-fiction writing, Kelly writes short stories and novels, and maintains a blog at You can follow her on Twitter at" --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
If you think you want to start composting, but feel overwhelmed and don't know where to start, this book is for you. This book is also for you if you already compost, but you're wondering if you're doing it right, or if there is anything else you should be doing. I fall into the second group. I grew up in a household where we composted, and I've always composted since I've had my own house. But I'm a rather lazy composter, and for the most part I just dump my fruit and vegetable scraps and yard waste into the bins. Every year or so I dig out what I've made, and I have to admit I find it rather mesmerizing to dig through the pile. With Kelly Smith's help, I've learned why some of my composting techniques didn't work so well and others turned out great. And I now know that I have to give the pile a big stir every now and again. I also really enjoyed the information on worms. Lots of clear information, step-by-step guides for those starting out, and an extensive trouble-shooting section. The book has both a very helpful table of contents and an index. This would make a great housewarming gift for a first-time home buyer.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa737f654) out of 5 stars 8 reviews
HASH(0xa76cbf78) out of 5 stars Newbie Gardener Found a Helpful Book Here! Feb. 27 2015
By BuyAlot - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am a newbie gardener, and this really helped me better understand the process of composting. I'm no expert, but I feel a lot more confident in starting this up. This book is full of how-to instructions with step-by-step lists for building compost bins or areas. It features a trouble shooting section that you can flip to if/when you run into an issue with your system. It also includes the chemical process and what to use (not use) for materials in your pile. There is also a chapter on worms and vermicomposting, which I don't think I'll do, but was interesting to read anyway. This is a 10 Chapter Book with a few appendices. Pictures (black and white) and some diagrams are included. Great buy! I would highly recommend I don't feel like I need another book on composting. This really seems to have it all.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa8589270) out of 5 stars Just what you need to know... Nov. 11 2011
By H. Roth - Published on
Format: Paperback
Not too complicated, too long, or basic. This is a great place to get started composting. Start now to be ready for spring planting.

In this book, Kelly Smith makes composting accessible to anyone who is interesting. From indoor systems for those who live in apartments or condominiums to larger systems for those who want large amounts of healthy fertilizer for gardens, you can find the answers you need by reading the book.

The contents balance the science you need to succeed with layman's terms so the process is easy to manage. She provides plans on building different styles of composting systems along with many helpful tables. The tables provide quick reference to the nutrient balance of different ingredients, the qualities of different systems, and many other topics.

You don't have to read the book cover to cover to get the answers you want. In fact, Ms. Smith designed the book so that you can read the first couple chapters as your baseline and then skip around to the information you need for wherever you are at in the composting process.

One of my favorite sections covers the myths of composting. Starting on page 23 you'll hear many of the common things people believe about preparing your own compost that simply aren't true. For example, I simply did not know that while earthworms are great in the garden, they aren't a good choice for an intense process like focused composting. This is just one myth that is dispelled making it easier for each person to get started, large or small, with their own composting projects.

As with everything I've seen from Atlantic Publishing, the book is laid out well and the print is a pleasant size to read. I'm sure like many others I've read and recommended, you'll find this book a great addition to your gardening resources. No doubt you'll refer to it repeatedly over the years and get exceptional value for your investment in "How to Build, Maintain, and Use a Compost System."
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa85891d4) out of 5 stars Comprehensive composting July 13 2011
By Susan W - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is one of those useful reference books you can dip into for a quick answer or you can read at length for all the interesting (nerdy) science surrounding the plant life-cycle. It's comprehensive, but it also provides the basic how-tos of composting, all in an easy, readable style. It would make a good household reference book and therefore a great housewarming gift, or, better yet, a gift to the gardener in your life, because it's chock-full of information about soil and how to get the best possible garden going. Even a seasoned composter will find lots of interesting tips and tidbits throughout. Best of all, the book has a good glossary and index.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa8ce721c) out of 5 stars Best Summary of Composting for Home Gardeners Yet Dec 15 2011
By Mikethegardener - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The "perfect" book on home composting hasn't been written yet, but for now, this is as good as it gets. Closer to 5 stars than 4. The book both motivational and instructive. It's easy to read and follow even for someone new to composting, yet even someone experienced in many composting methods will find some good new tips and variations on old techniques. It contains well thought out reasons why home composting is important for our environment and beneficial to the home gardener, and clear explanations of many composting methods to choose from based on individual needs and capabilities. There's even a quite workable composting system suitable for display in one's living room! There are a few oversimplifications, mostly in the first couple chapters, but these are quite minor compared with the accurate, concise, logical instructions given on selecting and and implementing simple, manageable and productive composting systems. The pros and cons of various methods are very well explained. I'm a detail-oriented composter, so, for example, I would have preferred to see scientific names (genus & species) as well as common names for several of the more important "decomposers" (organisms such as bacteria, fungi, worms, arthropods, etc. that contribute to the process of breaking down organic matter into "finished" compost ready to be used in the garden), but Smith's descriptions of the roles of these organisms are clear and correct. The book doesn't delve very far into soil science, but that's not its purpose. I occasionally give talks on composting and will definitely be listing Smith's book as one of my references and recommendations for purchase. The illustrations are of quite satisfactory quality in the Kindle version.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa8ce71f8) out of 5 stars How to Build Maintain, and use A Compost System Jan. 3 2012
By wendy - Published on
Format: Paperback
I've been gardening and composting for over 25 years. During that time I learned how to compost from watching friends, and gleaning information from books and magazines. Now for the first time I read cover to cover a book on composting; How to Build, Maintain and Use a Compost System, by, Kelly Smith and I have a better understanding of why we have certain practices when it comes to composting... like; why there is more carbon then nitrogen in the ratio of components to the compost, or how if you don't let your compost break down completely before adding it to the garden it could draw nitrogen from the existing soil.
Its details like this that enlightened me to the more scientific aspects of composting.

From my years of experience of composting, I found that the book painstakingly lays out every last detail in how to create different systems, I just skimmed or passed over these sections and although it was elementary to me I'm realize a beginner would find it beneficial. Also, I have a better understanding of how to create a worm bin.... I think I'll stick to the traditional outside heap!

This book is a perfect beginners guide to getting started and as a reference to anyone who is already experience at the art of composting. I would recommend it to any of my clients to take out the guess work and mystery behind composting.

Wendy Weiner, owner/operator and head gardener for The Front Yard Farmer, LLC