Let it Rot!: The Gardener's Guide to Composting (Storey's Down-to-Earth Guides)
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Let it Rot!: The Gardener's Guide to Composting (Storey's Down-to-Earth Guides)

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  377 ratings  ·  70 reviews
The revised and updated edition of the classic guide praised by Library Journal as "a highly successful demystification of an increasingly popular art." The perfect book for a new generation of environmentally aware gardeners.
Paperback, Third Edition, 160 pages
Published January 3rd 1998 by Storey Publishing, LLC (first published December 31st 1982)
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composting is a serious manner, as evidenced by all the hardcore gardeners i meet in my job. i love compost and recognize its value in any organic garden, but honestly, i just can't bring myself to keep track of charts, temperatures and ratios. this book is a great guide for any hands-off composter such as myself. i especially appreciated the first 5 chapters (of the 1990 copy that i read) which are dedicated to the science behind decomposition and the elements of good compost. an easy read. it...more
Anna Engel
This is a great resource for anyone involved in - or considering starting - home composting. We started a compost heap shortly after buying our house in Boston. The next Christmas, our fathers each bought us composting bins - one ball-shaped, the other box-shaped. We also continued to compile a heap in one corner of the yard.

We've gone about composting in a pretty haphazard way thus far. Now that I've read "Let it Rot," I intend to be a bit more organized. Or tell my husband what to do. All in...more
Thom Foolery
If it is not magnifying the importance of composting too much to say it, making compost enriches our lives almost as much as it does our gardens. It seems to harmonize our being here with the way the world ought to be. Composting can make you feel good about yourself. If you don't already know it, you'll see. (140)

I don't think Campbell is "magnifying the importance of composting" at all. From the moment my wife and I got our first composting bin in Oakland, CA, I have been amazed at the near mi...more
You need good compost to have a good garden. It's inescapable. This is a great guide to composting that is not inaccessible to the hobbyist composter. It's a smallish book (no Master Composting here) with a basic explanation of building your compost system, creating the right ratios, trouble shooting any problems you run into, and the pros/cons of different styles of composting. there are several diagrams of different types of outdoor composting bins alongside diagrams of how to create them. The...more
P.J. Sullivan
Oct 13, 2012 P.J. Sullivan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: gardeners
Shelves: nonfiction, science
A good introduction to composting. It discusses various composting systems, their advantages and disadvantages. Bins and tumblers. How to build a bin, where to locate it. What to put on your pile, what to avoid. How to layer. Drainage and aeration. Bacteria and organisms. How to activate your pile to speed decomposition. What to do with the finished product.

Recommended if you are looking to make good compost for your garden. May disappoint if you are mainly seeking a way to dispose of kitchen wa...more
Good book with a lot of information on the science behind composting, which should help you with your art of composting. Better book for someone with a large back yard, my options are limited since I have a smaller yard, would have liked more information on urban composting and keeping it practical. The author is from Vermont, options there are less limited.
Fast read. This info can probably all be found online, but this book packs all the information into one location. The information is still current and acceptable. Kudos for instructions on how to build composting devices, how to plant certain plants using the compost, etc. The author is very reassuring that making compost is not an exact science, but one of trial and error and that it can be fun along the way.
Kristina Jo
Totally readable (I got through most of it on a couple of train rides); informative without being stuffy; mostly uses layman's terms, which is great for a newbie like me. But I read it so quickly that my brain is kind of overloaded, and I don't feel any more capable of starting a compost heap than I did before reading. Also, while I see the benefits of heat composting, it seems to me that cold composting is going to be better for my household; but Campbell doesn't seem to go into much detail abo...more
This was a brief, fun, but not very informative book about composting. I didn't learn anything except the categorization scheme of bacteria by temperature range (psychrophiles (0-70F), mesophiles(70-90F), and thermophiles (100-200F)). Also, some people put wacky stuff in their compost - kelp, bloodmeal, etc. Just use what you have; that's the point!

Campbell asserts that compost does not contain enough Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and micronutrients to be considered a fertilizer. I would like to resolve...more
Joseph McBee
A great book for those of us who are just starting to learn the art and science of composting. It got a little too technical for my tastes, or maybe just too technical for my limited intelligence, but I found it very helpful overall.

I liked the way the author kept grounding (pun intended) the reader in reality. Just when you started to get a little overwhelmed with all the science and ins and outs of composting he would say "Remember, everything rots in time." It just made it a lot easier to fo...more
I don't have any outdoor space or intention to begin composting soon, but I was interested in the topic. This is a great book that demystifies compost and makes it sound attainable for the average untrained individual. The basic premise is that everything rots, so even if all you do is just throw whatever you have in a big pile, eventually it will compost. It may be anaerobic, slimy, smelly, and buggy, but it will rot. From there he gives information about the types and proportions of things to...more
Good introduction to composting. Since I have a big garden this year I wanted to try composting with my dead plants & kitchen veggie scraps.
I'm guessing that this would be a pretty good guide for people who a) have enough room for proper compost piles and b) aren't vegans. For me, however, I want absolutely NO animal products (especially those created by the farming industry - manure and blood meal, both suggested in this book) touching my food and I live in a townhouse so I have a tiny space. I have purchased a mini tumbler from Amazon (tumbler's get a brief mention in this book) and definitely picked up a few pointers from reading...more
Probably the best book I've read on home composting. Lots of useful info for intermediate-level composters as well as beginners.

Does an excellent job of explaining how to supplement your process to ensure inclusion of valuable trace minerals. This includes a (much appreciated) list of vegan and vegetarian alternatives to some animal-derived compost amendments (eg, blood, bone, fish meal).

Also thoroughly explains NPK breakdowns and (briefly) how to troubleshoot deficiencies of these in garden pl...more
Jan 18, 2009 Julie added it
Shelves: household
This book really is for gardeners. Excellent resource if your primary goal is to produce great compost to enrich your garden soil. But if you're like me, what you really want to do is simply recycle your garbage and yard waste, and keep that stuff out of the landfill. I'm not interested in maintaining a 150-degree temperature in my compost in January. So what I need is something more low-key, low-maintenance. But I like that he does explain the science, and should I ever take up serious gardenin...more
The best book on composting.
Aug 14, 2012 Eric rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone who wants to garden.
Shelves: dead-tree
This book is likely to become one of my go-to references for my compost heap. I learned quite a bit by reading it and now have plenty of notes written in the margins (as well as an index card with additional notes and thoughts on my current compost heap).

Nothing is too complex to understand with a little bit of thought. Some ideas are repeated vaguely in different sections, but this only adds to the value of the book as they're presented in a different manner relevant to the specific section. I...more
This is the bible of composting. It is describes multiple methods and means of composting plus the chemical explanations of the decomposition process. The book fluctuates between easy to read and very complicated. It is a more difficult read if reading cover to cover. It is best to use as a reference as needed. If readers are serious about composting, I recommend reading this book in tandem with taking a composting class from a local botanical garden or master gardener.
Katy Jane
This is the first book I read after deciding to compost. It explains everything in a very easy way. I like understanding why the materials break down the way they do and the advantages of composting. The only thing I was missing was a list of compostable material. This man stuck more to manures, yard clippings, and meal where as I wanted to know every day household things that are compostable because I don't want to spend any money on this project.
Jun 29, 2008 kathryn rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to kathryn by: Mom
Shelves: sustainable
This little booklet is a great introduction to the art of composting. I liked the author's big picture and creative approach to composting--you can't really go wrong if you just leave things to Mother Nature--but he offers a few tips and approaches to help you speed the process along. I've got notes on building my own compost enclosure with poultry wire, but there are many other suggestions for variations on the classic compost pile.
I Rosario
Good information, but sadly more overview than instruction manual.
Shelby Roberts
This book was a quick read on how to compost. It served as a great guide for a beginning composter. The science sections were very informative, yet easy to read. The one thing that it lacked for me was how to compost on a small scale with more urban resources. It mainly focused on the larger at home scale with resources that are not always available to city dwellers who simply want to reduce their waste.
part of my already late (again) spring gardening. I like to try new stuff every year. This year, among other things, I'm getting seriously into making dirt. This is a handy little starter book for those who don't want to read the whole Rodale's Monster Book Of Composting (this means me). First published back in the 70s, when people 'discovered' organic gardening and compost.
Useful primer on composting, albeit written in that tiresomely jolly "gee-whaddaya-know" style of most how-to books. It gives a fair amount of background info before cutting to the chase and giving practical info on setting up a composting bin/pile. I found some info online that was just as helpful as this book, which is one reason I'm not incline to rate it more highly.
Jun 28, 2008 Elaine rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: all organic gardeners
OK, you organic gardeners--here is the composting book you will always refer to. It tells you the ratios of nitrogen, carbon, soil,and moisture to add, what to do if you have a problem like slimey compost instead of nice, healthy, crumbly stuff. I couln't do it without the help of this book. It's a quick read and an invaluable resource.
Modern and helpful. I've now read three in a row and I found this to be most helpful. I also want to start a worm box i guess in the basement because it would totally help in this climate, assuming it even stops snowing and we actually get a spring which I am beginning to become dubious of. But great idea and easy to understand.
Kate McKinstry
A quick read in layperson's term about how to start and maintain a compost pile. The book was very readable and helpful in demystifying a lot of the jargon in had come across in my composting research. This book also has a lot of helpful charts and tables to refer to during the composting process.
This is a great resource for anybody trying to compost. I learned a lot about carbon/nitrogen ratios, microbial activity, and various ways to compost. I need to do more research on my Bokashi system to see how the Bokashi meal affects the composting system. Interesting stuff.
This is one of several books I've checked out of the library that deal with composting. I have said that that I'd like to try composting next summer, but am toying with the idea of beginning this fall (I'm thinking ahead to the mountain of leaves we'll have in October).
Lots of enthusiastically presented basic conceptual info on composting, but tailored for people who live in the country and have easy access to manure and large amounts of farm/yard waste. Less of a practical guide for the city or suburban composter than I was hoping.
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