Composting is a great way to turn your food and yard waste into new soil for your garden, but first you need to figure out what you can put in your compost pile. Start a compost pile in and of itself is not inherently difficult; all you need is space in the yard with easy access, but preferably not in a highly visible location. The space should be at least 3 feet by 3 feet, as smaller sized piles dry out too fast.
What goes into compost? Fruit and vegetable leftovers, peelings, stalks, seeds, leaves and other trimmings. Corn cobs, egg shells, citrus peels and coffee grounds are fine. Avocado peels, nut shells and coconut shells may take longer to decay, depending on your climate. Bread, rice, noodles, or cooked cereal can also go into the compost. Be careful about food mixed with meat or dairy foods. In general, it's best not to put meat, cheese or other animal products in compost piles: such things do not decompose as quickly, and can cause odors, attracting animals and undesirable insects. Animal droppings should never be put in a compost pile.
Another addition to compost is yard waste, from grass clippings to flower and vegetable plant debris to leaves. Branches, bark and twigs take a very long time to decompose, so leave those out, especially if they have thorns (unless you shred them first). You may also want to shred stalks of tall plants, like sunflowers or corn, which take longer to decay.
Wood ashes are OK in compost, but charcoal ashes are not. Paper waste and biodegradable food packaging can be composted. Paper that absorbs water, like paper towels, works best. Printed paper, newsprint, paper bags and magazines belong in the recycle bin, not the compost pile. It's a good idea to layer dirt on top of the compost materials periodically, to promote bacterial digestion of the pile. You can use poor-quality soil from other yard landscaping projects.