Compost is a gardener's best friend. The rich organic material yields yummy vegetables and jumbo flowers, all thanks to some potato peelings, coffee grounds and vegetable scraps. Add your fall leaves and grass clippings and you're in business. To have compost, you need only a small place to create it. To create it, you need only a trash can and a drill.

Here's how to convert a store-bought trash can into a composter, courtesy of the master gardeners in Roanoke, Va.:1. Thoroughly wash and clean a trash can, about a 13-gallon size.

2. Align, mark and drill holes that will be used to strap the trash can lid shut. For a strap, use a bungee-type rubber cord. This is an important step because the lid will need to be securely closed when you mix its contents.

3. Drill lots of holes in the sides and bottoms of the trash can.

4. Elevate the can on bricks or blocks so air can circulate beneath it.

Only fill your composter three-fourths full so there is room for mixing. In addition to kitchen scraps, leaves and grass clippings, you can add weeds without seed heads. Do not use meat or fat or you will attract unwanted animals. Avoid perennial roots that may become established in wanted places.

You also can add a couple small shovels of rich garden soil and some water to keep the compost contents moist but not soggy.

Each week, turn the can on its side and roll it around a few times to mix the contents. After mixing, return the can to its upright position.

Your compost is ready to use when it's dark and crumbles like chocolate cake.

Daily Press (Newport News, Va.).