For a better garden,
Don't toss it - turn it!
Yard wastes and food scraps don't do anyone any good buried in a landfill. But if you compost them at home, those "wastes" can become a rich source of organic matter for your yard and garden. You'll get the quickest results and most uniform compost with a carefully constructed and managed pile, but even a sporadically turned heap will eventually give you usable compost.
While rolling drums and prefabricated bins can make it easy to get started composting, they aren't necessary. In fact, you don't need a bin of any kind if you have a well-drained, out-of-the-way spot for an open pile. However, to speed up the composting process and keep materials contained, you can easily build a bin. Try bending some woven wire fencing into a circle, tacking together some scrap lumber into a three-sided box, or stacking some concrete blocks. Leave the bottom of your containment structure open to bare soil to allow microorganisms to move into the pile from the soil. Mixing a little soil with the composting materials also helps introduce microorganisms into the pile.
For the most efficient composting, you need materials that are relatively high in nitrogen, such as food scraps and grass clippings, as well as materials high in carbon, such as wood chips, leaves, sticks, or straw. If you're composting mostly low nitrogen materials, you'll need to add a source of nitrogen such as manure or urea fertilizer.
The microorganisms also need a balance of oxygen and water. Materials in the pile should be moist, but not so saturated that air can't move through. If you're a beginner, stick with plant materials for composting. Don't add meats, bones, fats, dairy foods, or pet waste to your compost; they don't break down as easily, and they can create odors and attract nuisance animals.
The next step is to let the heap "cook" for a month or so, then turn the pile, mixing materials from the outside edges into the center. After cooking and turning the pile a few more times, you'll have finished compost to use as a garden mulch or soil amendment.