I will be the first to admit I'm not the best composter in the world. For most of my gardening life I have ducked composting like it was the bubonic plague.

During my "early days" of gardening, composting just seemed too complicated and just way too much work. Eventually, I broke down and began composting on a small scale because I understood the importance of it.

And I hated it. I never knew if I was doing it right.

Am I putting the materials in the pile correctly?

Is it wet enough?

Do I have enough browns?

When is the good stuff ready?

And Then I Read...

Complete Idiot's Guide To CompostingChris McLaughlin's The Complete Idiot's Guide to Composting (Alpha/Penguin). If you have ever found yourself standing in front of a big heap of composting materials scratching your head wondering if you're doing it right, then I highly recommend you pick up a copy.

This book breaks down the compost confusion in a way that's easy to understand and really fun to read. Most books in the gardening world read like a car repair manual, but The Complete Idiot's Guide To Composting feels more like having a conversation with a good friend.

The thing I love about this book is how Chris tells the reader to throw out all the math and just pile up your compost materials.

"Compost happens", as she says often in the book.

There's no need to get wrapped up in formulas, ratios and calling NASA for help. Building great compost is simplified so it doesn't seem like a hassle, and actually becomes an activity you look forward to.

The book offers very useful sidebars throughout, such as the very cute "Wise Worm", which gives fun and informative facts during each composting subject. There are also sidebars called "Prickly Problem" that help you to avoid composting mistakes, "Digging Deeper" provides more advice on composting tips, and sidebars that contain definitions on some tricky composting lingo.

There is also a section on teaching children how to compost and activities for teaching composting and vermicomposting in the classroom.

Composting is a very important, if not the most important, element of growing a healthy and productive vegetable garden. If you are confused by composting then The Complete Idiot's Guide to Composting will help you to become a composting guru in no time.

Chris McLaughlin writes about gardening for publications such as Urban Farm Magazine and The Herb Companion. She is also a regular contributor on VegetableGardener.com and FineGardening.com, plus she's the feature writer for vegetable gardens at Suite101.com and the editor for Home Gardening at Foodie Mama.com.

You can also find Chris online at her blog www.asuburbanfarmer.com and Twitter - @Suburban_Farmer.

Get Started Composting Today