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Although the bulk of the material contained in this book could be found online, it's still a worthwhile purchase. Indeed, it is a must have. The purchase price of the book will be quickly regained in the money you will save making your own compost rather than purchasing bagged compost or synthetic fertiliser.
A few of the chapters are more interesting than useful to the home gardener. For instance, one of the early chapters discusses the history of composting beginning with the ancient Akkadians. The final chapter discusses managing large scale compost operations (by large scale, I mean tens and hundreds of tons of waste) on the farm or as part of a municipal waste management strategy.
The core of the book, however, is very directly useful. A chapter is provided describing the chemistry of what goes on in composting, and what goes on as plants attempt to take nutrients from the soil. Another chapter describes the various types of life from microbes to insects and worms (including lovely line drawings) that inhabit a compost pile during the various phases of its lifecycle.
By far the most useful chapter is chapter 6, which provides a list of potential ingredients for your pile and suggestions on how to obtain them. Numerous charts are provided that indicate on balance whether an item should be considered a "green" or a "brown", and (should you desire more specifics) the actual NPK content of various ingredients. This is fully a fifth of the book.
The next most useful chapter is chapter 10, which gives suggestions for various sorts of compost bins you can buy or build. Another chapter describes tools like chippers and shredders that might be useful to you if you plan to make a fair amount of compost. Alternatives are suggested for the folks who don't need quite that much labour saving help.
I can't think of anything that is not in this book that I wish it had. Nor for that matter, can I think of anything that needs to be cut from it. It strikes the perfect balance between comprehensiveness and brevity.
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on December 31, 1999
This was the first book I ever read about composting, a subject I was minimally interested in. After one reading I was hooked on composting! I bought the book about six months ago and have since read it over and over, always seeming to learn something new every time I read it. In the meantime I have read everything I can find about composting. This book seems to cover everything. The other things I read are generally just a different way of saying the very things that are in this book.
I believe the Rodale Book of Composting should be called the bible of composting for the everyday person.
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on July 26, 2000
This guide is really an excellent introduction to composting but an experienced composter will also find much useful, detailed, and interesting information here. Unfortunately, it's a terribly dry read, especially some sections near the front of the book. Do not despair, Dear Reader! If it gets too dry and technical skip ahead and it will get better.
A beginner will gain a complete understanding of the compost process, a guide to selecting an appropriate method for their own needs, and guidelines to buy or build their own composters. An experienced composter will gain greater understanding into why some batches are more successful than others and how to improve the quality of their compost, along with incredibly extensive lists on exactly what material can be used in composting and why. This book addresses the needs of the urban and suburban gardener, along with the needs of the homesteader, organic farmer, and family farmer.
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HALL OF FAMEon March 17, 2002
I began using the Rodale methods for organic gardening including composting back in the early 1970s and continue to do so today. I swear to you these methods work. If you truly want to be a great gardener and help save the planet from the depredations of the backward and evil, read this book. Rodale's dream of a compost pile in every back yard is alive. We can all make a difference and THE RODALE BOOK OF COMPOSTING shows you how.
In the early pages of the book, the editors Deborah Martin and Grace Gersuny (the book is a composite of excellent articles published over the years in ORGANIC GARDENING) have included a history of composting. Composting was known to the Jews, the Romans, the Greeks, American Indians, and other traditional people. Washington and Jefferson used organic methods to grow their crops, vegetables, fruits, and flowers. Composting was a major activity for farmers until the petro-chemical industry persuaded farmers they needed oil-converted-to-fertilizer-and-poisons to grow crops. Practices are changing, but as the new AG bill shows, not fast enough.
Why should the little guy compost? This book gives you all sorts of reasons for composting, but my response is why not compost. You can compost if you live in an apartment on the 29th floor of a building in New York City, and you might want compost for your house plants after you read this book. I have composted for so long I cannot imagine how anyone gardens and does not compost. First of all you add nuitients not available from man-made sources and these nuitrients help you grow great plants. Think of compost as breast milk. Why would you give your roses canned formula when they can have the real thing? When you use compost on your plants, you strengthen them against disease and predators. Given drought conditions and water shortages which stress plants, it's nice to know that compost enhances moisture retention.
The book identifies the kinds of wastes that work best in the compost pile. For early farmers, manure was the answer. Most of us can still lay our hands on cow manure that has been composted, but it's expensive. There aren't as many farm animals as there once were and there are so many more of us. However, you do have some options even if you don't own your own cow. You produce things that can be converted into plant food.
The book suggests that you may not want use dog "feces" because it smells bad, but I do. My POMS poop and I pick it up and throw it in my black plastic compost container. (I have two kinds of composters and several loose piles--all described in the book). Guess what--dogs can eat a relatively vegetarian diet and they won't have stinky feces and they will be healthier (just like humans!!).
The book recommends against cat litter and feces, and I have used cat box litter after it was used by the cat and created HUGE plants (lots of nitrogen) so we stopped using cat stuff. I have used coco shells and they are great but cannot use them with dogs who are poisoned by the shells (the book does not tell you this, but as a rule of thumb don't let your dog eat compost or mulch). I love coffee grounds and throw them right on my rose bushes. Tea bags work better after they disintegrate in the compost bin. I also throw paper towels and kleenex from the waste baskets into the compost bin. Any vegetable matter can be composted. I avoid animal products except for the dog feces.
A friend of mine complained that her compost pile smelled bad. I asked her if she threw newly mowed grass on the pile. Yes she did. The book suggests you either let the grass lay where it falls (I've done this and it works--it does NOT cause thatch); Let the grass dry before you throw it on the compost pile; or don't grow grass. The latter has been my approach for some time. I do not have a blade of grass in my yard (a few in the brick walks, but that's another matter). Ground covers work well--especially creeping thyme.
This is a great book and a great place to begin if you are a new gardener. A kid can follow these directions. The authors include a chapter on organic gardening "experiments" you could try yourself or with a child--great ideas for science projects for school!! Also, if your family likes to fish, compost piles grow great worms, another benefit of composting.
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HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICEon September 22, 2005
As a serious gardener I appreciate well written books that I can own and have in my book shelf for yearly reading. And Rodale is a well respected publisher of gardening books.The subtitle says it all 'Easy methods for every gardener'.

This means even apartment dwellers with a porch or patio can have a small compost setup. The book covers numerous ways to construct a composter as well as the many types of organic or natural materials one can compost. Even cardboard in moderation, as well as the traditional eggshells, coffee grounds, banana peels, vegetable and fruit scraps.

The book also discusses year round composting and how and why composting works and the positive environmental impact of everyone have some type of a compost set up. This is one of those books every serious gardener should have or at least buy, read and donate to ones public library.
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on August 21, 2006
If all you plan to do is improve your garden using kitchen scraps and some yard waste, this book is not for you. It is very technical, and best-suited to those with lots of space and time on their hands to manage large composting projects. Don't let this be your first book on the subject, since it will probably (wrongly) convince you that you need a Masters in Agriculture or Ecology to do accomplish what will naturally happen if you get any of a number of inexpensive composting bins, toss in some banana peels, coffee grinds and dead leaves, mix in some dirt and let the microbes get to work.
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on June 10, 2006
This is the most thumbed-through book on composting I have. Easily 90% of anything you would want to know about composting is inside this book. A small amount of the material may not be useful to the typical gardener, but it is interesting none the less. An excellent guide for the beginner and a good reference for the advanced composter.
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on September 17, 2004
This is the one you want. Everything you need to know about compost is available to you here, from the small household garden to municipal waste disposal programs.

Most of the book deals with the biochemistry of compost, teaching you how to maintain and balance your fertilizer.
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VINE VOICEon January 18, 2009
I leafed through this book while visiting my neighborhood bookstore and I knew it wasn't all bull. The book explains that composting has many benefits aside from the cost saving factor of replacing chemical fertilizers. It how to identify when composted materials will work for you. It explains soil types (though that could have been more thorough), I had no idea my soil was so leached until I read the first chapter. To cut to the chase, unlike a previous reviewer, I do not see why it would not be workable in a small area (I live on a zero lot line plot in the 'burbs, the only issue I could for see is if your yard was paved, has no direct sun light (which speeds the process of breakdown) or your neighbors complained (which there are ways around you tube has excellent ideas).
Great tips on what helps break down the elements the quickest (human urine is suggested but only if one is not on medications which would taint it)?
I bought extra copies for like minded friends. I think this book is a great value compared to all the information that I had already perused.
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on February 23, 2015
I HIGHLY recommend The Rodale Book of Composting to any and everyone who has an interest in composting. This book can be read as an in-depth text book for those who want to seriously delve into the topic. At the same time, if you have a general interest in composting, you can skim through only the pertinent parts as well. I've referred to it a great many times, as well as referred others to it as suggested gardener reading. Super, SUPER, S U P E R book. Easy to read, but at the same time highly informing.
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