I'm a pretty lazy composter. I keep a bucket of kitchen scraps under the sink, and I add to it throughout the day. Usually I empty it every other day into our outdoor compost bin.

Dad made this bin for me almost 10 years ago, out of reclaimed redwood deck boards. It's not terribly large, because at the time, I wasn't sure whether I wanted a big composting system, or a worm bin. This is sort of both. It's not large enough to generate a ton of heat, so things break down slowly. However, I buy worms every few years to add to the bin, and they speed up the process, not to mention add their castings to the mix.

From the kitchen, we add food scraps (anything trimmed off a veg or fruit), coffee grounds and filters, eggshells, plain white paper towels and napkins, and sometimes even nail or hair clippings. I don't add any dairy or meat products, but if there is leftover moldy bread or pasta, I'll add that as well. I also try to add toilet paper rolls.

From the garden I add leaves and clippings. I usually don't have room for branches. I don't add weeds, because the bin doesn't get hot enough to kill the weed seeds. I often have too many leaves for the bin, in which case we'll put them in our weekly green can pickup, or I'll make a pile and let them mold. Leaf mold is excellent in the garden. I then add the leaves from the pile, to the compost,  whenever I can.

I probably never get the right ratio of carbon and nitrogen. I live by the motto "compost happens" and it always does, no matter what I add to the bin. My bin gets watered every few days by a sprinkler, and once in a great while I'll go out and aerate it. (I can't say what I do is actual 'turning' or 'mixing.' It's usually too full for that, and besides, I'm a lazy composter. I said that, right?)

Then, 3-4 times a year, I'll harvest some compost from the bottom of the bin.

I open the bin.

Then I pull up one of the front two panels, and prop it up with a stick.

This allows me access to the bottom of the bin, where the goods are. Sometimes it's hard to see the good stuff. Our magnolia leaves never break down.

After I dig around a little, this is what I'll find:

I just shovel it out. It's awkward, the angle is hard, and it takes some effort. But it's worth it.

The finished compost is not even and sifted, like store bought. It's wet and rich and bumpy and wonderful.

I use this in my garden as needed. I'll either add it in a hole that I am preparing for planting, or side dress a mature plant. They really love it.

I don't need many tools to access my compost bin. My trusty shovel, and a few long sticks.

I buy 1-2 pounds of red wigglers every couple of years to add to the bin. Usually I just check Local Harvest to see who, locally, is selling worms. They cost about $20/pound. I try to leave them in the bin, when I harvest the compost, but if they come out and go in the ground, that's ok. I imagine some of them dig down under the bin (which is open at the bottom) and make a break for it, but most must stay, as it's a constant supply of good food. Sometimes I'll open the bin and see thousands of baby worms. Most often I see ants, fruit flies, sow bugs, and spiders. Like this doozy who came out to greet me:

No idea what kind of spider this is. I named her 'creepy.' I'm not a huge lover of spiders, but they sure are important in the garden, so I try to appreciate them.

A side note:
When I got my most recent bag of worms in the mail, I took a few in to the classroom where I work, in a jar with some items from the bin. (I am a para for a little boy in First Grade.) I showed the kids the worms, and asked them how many of them compost at home. Not one said yes. I was astounded. I explained the process. The classroom teacher noted the kids interest, and the next time we went to the nature area at school, the nature teacher showed the kids the compost bins and asked them to dig in it, and make a list of all the creatures they found. It was fun to see the excitement, mixed with a little disgust, and a lot of curiosity. This was several weeks ago. Today, two kids told me they started composting at home after that lesson. This made me very happy! Composting is one of the easiest and best things we can do for the earth, and I'm glad kids are learning this at an early age.