PSU Fact Sheet “Home Compost: a Guide for Home Gardeners” contains information on making compost.
Over the last 20 years I’ve put compost on the garden almost every year. The garden’s soil is rich and black. I rarely use other fertilizers. You can buy a bin or simply make a pile (heap composting). I used the heap method for many years. Plans for “ConstructingCompost Bins” from PSU Center County Extension.
I simplify the recipe: Three parts brown (leaves) to one part green (garden cuttings. weeds, vegetable scraps). Water if it looks dry, Mix it once in a while to aerate. If I don’t get the ratio exactly right, It’ll turn into compost anyway.
I try to avoid adding weeds that have gone to seed. My pile may not get hot enough to destroy the weed seeds. I also don’t use anything twiggy or woody because it takes too long to break down. Newspaper counts as brown, if I run out of leaves. Coffee grounds count as green. (We drink a lot of coffee.)
You can spend time making compost or spend money on fertilizer. I choose to make compost.