April--it’s not too early to start gardening!
If you have some windblown leaves in the corners of the yard, they will make a wonderful first addition to your first compost pile.
Look in the garage or shed to see if you have some wire mesh fencing. Plastic is OK, but 2” x 2” or 3” x 3” wire mesh is better. It should be at least 4’ tall, and long enough to make a circular enclosure at least 3’ diameter, so an 8’ - 10’ length is good. Find a shady place to put it. Secure it with wood or steel posts--3 will work but 4 is better.
Add those dried leaves from the yard. Great start! These are brown, high-carbon nutrients for the pile.
Begin saving your apple cores, potato peels, eggshells, coffee grounds with their filter, and other kitchen scraps to add to the pile. These are mostly high-nitrogen nutrients. Green grass clippings are even higher in nitrogen content. Layers or a nice mix of brown and green materials will make for well-fed decomposers (bacteria, fungi and invertebrates) and a faster rate of rot.
Do not add fatty kitchen waste, like cheese, bones, leftover pasta salad or the like. Likewise the piles from your pet dog or cat. These items should continue to be discarded in the trash.
That’s it! Keep a tarp over the top and make sure your pile stays moist. The procedure can be more technical and you can buy fancier containers if you wish. You can spend more time doing it and get a faster compost result, but it’s not necessary.
In 2 or 3 months, dig to the bottom to see if you have a nice, dark-colored but lightweight amendment that looks like rich soil. It can be spread in your garden in the fall to add the perfect fertilizer and organic material to enrich your soil and give your shrubs and perennials a great start in spring.