Compost Magazine

Composting tips, advice and science.

Composting for a New Generation picture next to compost thermometer.

Learn the Art of Composting with Michelle Balz’s Superb Guide: Composting for a New Generation

If you’re looking for a solid, comprehensive and well-illustrated introduction to composting, Composting for a New Generation, Latest Techniques for the Bin and Beyond by Michelle Balz is probably the best. (Or at least, it’s the best I’ve read so far!)

In fact, while the Humanure Handbook is my favourite book for a good read, and Compost Science for Gardeners is great for a solid grounding in science, Composting for a New Generation is the best I’ve seen yet for teaching you how to compost. 

That’s not to say that other areas are not well-covered

You’ll get an introduction to both the benefits and the science behind composting, but the reason I love the book is its clear and beautifully illustrated guide to composting.

Who’s the author?

Michelle Balz certainly knows what she’s talking about.

In addition to being a lifelong composter, and running the blog “Confessions of a Composter”. Balz teaches classes on backyard compost.

She also works as a solid waste professional, teaching businesses and residents how to reduce waste and use fewer resources. 

What’s in the book?

Cover of Composting for a New Generation

Balz starts by explaining just why one might want to compost, covering everything from improving your soil and combatting pathogens to mental and health benefits. 

She’ll then whisk you through the science, including the role of micro and macro-organisms and the three phases or aerobic composting. 

Then we get into what really makes the best part of the book for me – how to compost.

And what a lot of ways are covered in this book!  

You’ll learn how to compost with a bin, how to utilise African keyhole gardening (where a compost heap is placed in the centre of a small vegetable bed) and can even enjoy an introduction to Black Soldier Fly Larvae composting (where all the work is done by maggots). 

Finally, Michelle finishes off with how to use compost. 

While it’s not as much as a focus as with Compost Science for Gardeners, Michelle busts a few myths in the process (‘compostable’ kitchen collection liners are not compostable, at least at home). 

What’s to like about the book?

The book is clear, concise, written with passion and enthusiasm – but what really makes it stand out is the illustrated guides. 

It teaches you to build and use numerous compost tools and bins, whether it’s converting a trash bin into a sunken composter (easy) or building your own compost tumbler (looks rather more difficult!)

Each of these guides is accompanied by numerous photographs to help you along each step of the way. 

What’s not to like about the book?

It’s hard to practice composting and study it for a while, without finding at least a few things to disagree with.

Michelle recommends a ratio of three parts brown to one part green.

Many other composters recommend a different ratio. I personally would find it impossible to compost in the summer if I needed to find that amount of brown material. 

As studies show you can compost successfully (although maybe not optimally) with a wide range of materials, I think this is one area where the author has been a little too prescriptive. 

Other than that, there’s not a lot to criticise. 

Who’s it for?


Composting for a New Generation is ideal for both beginner and intermediate composters who want to learn some more techniques.

While the science section is really an introduction, the rest of the book is very comprehensive, and will walk you through everything you need to know for successful composting. 

However, it really comes into its own for the practical person who likes to do a bit of DIY. 

In summary, a beautifully illustrated book which will get you well along the way to being an expert composter, and the first composting book I have reviewed which gets a 5 star rating!

Composting for a New Generation: Latest Techniques for the Bin and Beyond” (2018) by Michelle Balz is published by Cool Springs Press. Available on Amazon US and Amazon UK.

Before you go…

Compost bin in sunset.

Want to learn how to make your own compost?

As we’ve seen, it’s fun, helps your garden and can save you time and money.

Find out how with our step-by step guide to home composting.