What To Compost
|Table Scraps||N||Add with dry carbon items|
|Fruit & Vegetable Scraps||N||Add with dry carbon items; Let any soggy items dry out|
|Eggshells||Neutral||Best added when crushed|
|Leaves||C||Breaks down faster when shredded|
|Grass Clippings||N||Add in thin layers so they don't mat into clumps|
|Garden Plants||-||Use disease free plants|
|Lawn & Garden Weeds||N||Only use weeds that haven't gone to seed|
|Shrub Prunnings||C||Woody prunnings are slow to break down|
|Straw or Hay||C||Straw is best; Hay (with seeds) is less ideal|
|Green Comfrey Leaves||N||Excellent compost 'activator'|
|Pine Needles||C||Acidic; Use in moderate amounts|
|Flower Cuttings||N||Chop up any long woody stems|
|Seaweed and Kelp||N||Apply in thin layers; Good source for trace minerals|
|Wood Ash||C||Only use ash from clean materials; Sprinkle lightly|
|Chicken Manure||N||Excellent compost 'activator'|
|Coffee Grounds||N||Filters may also be included|
|Tea Leaves||N||Loose or in bag|
|Newspaper||C||Avoid using glossy paper and colored inks|
|Shredded Paper||C||Avoid using glossy paper and colored inks|
|Cardboard||C||Shred material to avoid matting|
|Corn Cob / Stalk||C||Slow to decompose; Best if chopped up|
|Dryer Lint||C||Best if from natural fibers|
|Sawdust Pellets||C||High carbon levels; Add in layers to avoid clumping|
|Sawdust||C||Should be mixed or scattered thinly to avoid clumping; Be sure sawdust is clean, with no machine oil or chain oil residues from cutting equipment|
|Wood Chips / Pellets||C||High carbon levels; Use sparingly|
You can also add garden soil to your compost. A layer of soil will help to mask any odors, and micro-organisms in the soil will accelerate the composting process.
Different items used for composting decompose at different rates but they will all eventually break down. Speeding up the composting process is helped by chopping the larger material into smaller pieces.
What Not to Compost
- Meat, Bones or Fish Scraps (They will attract pests.)
- Dairy or Fatty Foods (They wreck havoc on the array of microorganisms, bugs, worms, etc. in your compost pile. They also attract rodents and scavengers.)
- Perennial Weeds (They can be spread with the compost and grow in your gardens.)
- Diseased plants (Diseases can be spread to healthy plants.)
- Pet Manures in compost that will be used on food crops
- Banana Peels, Peach Peels and Orange Rinds (They may contain pesticide residue, and should be kept out of the compost.)
- Black Walnut Leaves
All compostable materials are either carbon or nitrogen-based, to varying degrees. The secret to a healthy compost pile is to maintain a working balance between these two elements.
Carbon - carbon-rich matter gives compost its light, fluffy body. Examples would be; branches, dried leaves, corn stalks, coffee filters, egg shells, and wood ash. Check out the what to compost table above for more.
Nitrogen - nitrogen or protein-rich matter provides raw materials for making enzymes. Examples would be; manures, food scraps, green lawn clippings and green leaves. Check out the what to compost table above for more.
A healthy compost pile should have a lot more carbon than nitrogen. A simple rule of thumb is to use one-third green and two-thirds brown materials. The bulkiness of the brown materials allows oxygen to penetrate and nourish the organisms that reside there. Having too much nitrogen makes for a dense, smelly, slowly decomposing anaerobic mass. Good composting hygiene means covering fresh nitrogen-rich material, since it can release odors if exposed to open air, with carbon-rich material. This often exudes a fresh, wonderful smell. If in doubt, add more carbon!