Home Composting

When organic materials such as leaves, twigs, grass clippings, and food scraps break down aerobically (with oxygen), they turn into compost. Farmers and gardeners often refer to compost as "black gold" because it is a nutrient-rich soil amendment that can help plant growth. Compost improves water retention and aeration in soil while also providing carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and beneficial bacteria to the soil microbiome.

Residents and businesses in Sonoma County can place food scraps as well as yard debris in their curbside green bin. However, because organics collected curbside are currently trucked to compost facilities in Marin, Napa, and Mendocino Counties, composting at home may be preferable as it helps decrease transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions. Compost created at home can then be used in home gardens, which closes the loop and also saves money by reducing the need to buy from stores.

In addition to being good for the soil, composting is good for the environment because it reduces the amount of organic material going to landfill. Organic materials decompose anaerobically (without oxygen) in landfills and produce methane (CH4), a powerful greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2). Compost added to soil also helps to pull carbon out of the atmosphere through a process called carbon sequestration. To learn more about climate change and greenhouse gases, visit the EPA's website.

Anyone can compost at home! See below for virtual workshop recordings on how to start a backyard hot pile, in both the English and Spanish language. No backyard or not enough space for a compost pile? Worm composting/vermicomposting is a smaller scale solution perfect for people who don't produce much organic material, live in apartments, or have limited space.

Virtual Workshops for Starting a Backyard Hot Pile in English and Spanish

Virtual workshops were conducted by the Sonoma County Master Gardeners and translated by Soluna Outreach Solutions.

Recorded workshops are also available for Worm Composting, which is perfect for composting on a smaller scale, indoors, or with minimal space.


The following resources are provided in English and Spanish language. Click on the image to download the .pdf

Help for the home gardener

Ask an expert! The Sonoma County Master Gardeners are available at (707) 565-2608 or mgsonoma@ucdavis.edu. Master Gardener volunteers are trained and certified by the University of California, Cooperative Extension. Workshops and seminars are given regularly at various libraries.

UC Master Gardener Program of Sonoma County