Backyard composters were popular before cities introduced green bin pro­grams. The attractions are obvious: Composters are easy to set up and easy to use. They produce great soil for your garden and they soak up one-third of your garbage — the stinkiest third, the bits of rotting vegetables and fruit that turn garbage pails into soup tureens.

Worried about raccoons or rats? As long as you do your composting correctly, experts say, rodents shouldn’t be a problem. And getting it right just means mixing kitchen waste evenly with carbon-rich material such as dry leaves or shredded newspaper.

Here’s a guide to setting up a backyard composter.

1. Find a flat place in your yard. Or make a place flat. You will need about one-square-metre of space.

2. Insulate the bottom of your new bin with twigs and leaves for drainage.

3. Assemble the basic ingredients: Browns and greens. Browns are carbonous items, like dried leaves, wood shavings or shredded newspaper.

4. Greens are most of the things you would throw into your green bin, sans meat, fish, diapers and milk products.

5. Empty your kitchen green bin in the middle of your composter and cover it with equal amounts of brown.

6. Add a dusting of soil to the top, to boost the crew of micro-organisms needed to start breaking the food down.

7. Leave it for at least one week. That way, it will become “hot” as the microorganisms feast on the organics.

8. “Turn” your compost every week or two. That means stick a pole into it and stir.

9. Keep compost moist.

10. In three months, your old tea bags and rotten strawberries will be transformed into brown, crumbly soil.

What goes in
• Fruit and vegetable scraps; coffee grounds; rice and pasta; egg shells; tea bags; paper napkins and towels; plant trimmings.

• Don’t compost meat, fish, bones, dairy products; oils or fats; sauces; pet poo; diapers; diseased plants; weeds with seeds.