Start with a layer of leaves, grass clippings and kitchen waste (banana peels, eggshells, withered lettuce, fruit cores, coffee grounds, etc.) Keep adding materials until you have a six-inch layer, then cover it with three to six inches of soil, manure, or finished compost.
Alternate layers of organic matter and layers of soil or manure until the pile is about three feet tall. A pile that is three feet tall by three feet square will generate enough heat during decomposition to sterilize the compost. This makes it useful as a potting soil, topdressing for lawns, or soil-improving additive.
Keep the pile in a shaded area to keep it from drying out. Make an indentation in the top to hold water and sprinkle with a garden hose when it appears dry. Keep it moist, but not wet. When your compost is ready, it can be mixed into the soil before planting or applied to the surface of the soil as a mulch.