Woohoo! You've come to the right place (I'm on a compost-high these days - just discovered it myself a few months ago)
You don't need anything fancy - or a bin at all...that's really your preference. I personally have an open bin, since I have a fair amount of land, and have space for it. All I did was take 3 pallets and nail them together at the corners so they don't blow over
There's a 4th bin on the right, since eventually this will become a 3 bin system (I'm short a coupla pallets
) my compost bin
There are members who have turned a garbage can, or chicken wire into compost bins. The purpose of the bin is really just to contain the 'stuff' in one place, help it to heat up, and keep it out of the elements. Mine works fantastic right out in the open...and no, it doesn't smell. The trick to that is getting the right combination of greens & browns. I want to say 25% green & 75% brown. If I'm wrong someone please correct me!
There are some great threads in the organic forum archives that will help out with what to put in it
Here's just a sample of some stuff I've put in my bin:
freshly mowed grass, coffee grounds, coffee filter, coffee left in the pot
, spoiled fruit or veggies, fruit peels, tea bags, flat soda, eggshells
Dried grass, dried leaves, leftover potting soil, shredded newspaper, white paper, paper towels, napkins, swept up dust/dog hair (even fingernails and human hair is good), hay, twigs
(Don't add any glossy/shiny or colored paper to the pile. There are some people who won't compost napkins and the like because they've been through a bleaching process...I still compost mine though)
Remember the smaller the chunks are that go in, the faster your pile will cook down and be ready to use. You can put as much or as little work into it as you want - either way the stuff you put in will break down - it will just take longer if you put less work into it.
Keep the pile moist like a damp sponge, but not dripping wet. Turn it (if you want to) every few days to keep it aerated so it works faster.
And by all means if you have any questions post away - none of them are dumb (and we've all probably asked them at one time or another) and as you can see I can't say enough about composting
It's a fascinating process and it's great for the environment to boot - oh, and the flowers