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Compost

What You Should and Should Not Compost

Here is two lists of materials.  One is a list of things you can compost, along with what they turn into.  the other is a list of things you should not compost.

Materials You Can Compost

Turns IntoMaterialsDetails
CarbonAlfalfa meal and hayShredding or chopping it up will help it break down quicker
CarbonBuckwheat straw or hullsShredding or chopping it up will help it break down quicker
Carboncardboardshred material to avoid matting
Carboncardboardshred material to avoid matting
CarbonCardboardIf you have lots of this, consider recycling it. Otherwise, shred into small pieces in pile.
CarbonCat litter (unused!)Ugh..make sure its unused
CarbonCocoa hullsShredding or chopping it up will help it break down quicker
Carboncorn cobs, stalksslow to decompose; best if chopped up
CarbonCornstalks, corn cobsA little tricky, so shred and/or break down and mix well into pile.
CarbonDried Grass clippingsMake sure they are not too wet and mix with dry leaves for best results.
Carbondryer lintbest if from natural fibers
CarbonDryer lintYum, lint. Make sure you moisten it a little before you add it.
CarbonGrape pomace (winery waste)When dried and shredded best used as a carbon
CarbonHedge ClippingsShredding or chopping it up will help it break down quicker
CarbonHops (brewery waste)When dried and shredded best used as a carbon
CarbonKelp (seaweed)Good source of potassium (perfect for growing potatoes!). Use sparingly or sprinkle kelp meal in to get your pile cooking.
Carbonleavesleaves break down faster when shredded
CarbonLeavesShredding or chopping it up will help it break down quicker
Carbonnewspaperavoid using glossy paper and colored inks
CarbonNewspaperShredding or chopping will help it break down quicker
CarbonNut shellsShredding or chopping will help it break down quicker
CarbonOak leavesShredding or chopping will help it break down quicker
CarbonOat strawShredding or chopping will help it break down quicker
CarbonPaperShredding will help it break down quicker
CarbonPeanut hullsShredding or chopping will help it break down quicker
CarbonPeat mossAlso great to add to your garden soil
Carbonpine needlesacidic; use in moderate amounts
CarbonPine needles and conesShredding or chopping will help it break down quicker
CarbonSawdust and wood shavingsPreferably not from kiln-dried wood
Carbonsawdust pelletshigh carbon levels; add in layers to avoid clumping
Carbonshredded paperavoid using glossy paper and colored inks
Carbonshrub pruningswoody prunings are slow to break down
Carbonstraw or haystraw is best; hay (with seeds) is less ideal
CarbonTea leavesBest if shredded to help it break down quicker
CarbonVetchFrom the pea family, yup add it too
CarbonWeedsDon't add if your concerned about spreading the seeds
CarbonWheat strawBest if shredded to help it break down quicker
Carbonwood ashonly use ash from clean materials; sprinkle lightly
Carbonwood chips / pelletshigh carbon levels; use sparingly
NeutralAshes (wood, not coal)Use only wood ashes since coal ashes can be toxic to plants. Use sparingly as a pest deterant.
NeutralBeverages, kitchen rinse waterHelp keep the pile moist, but don't over do it.
NeutralEgg shellsThese break down slowly, so make sure to crush these before adding.
NitrogenAlgae, seaweed and lake mossGood source of nutrients and minerals.
NitrogenApple pomace (cider press waste)If dried use as a carbon
NitrogenBanana peelsShredding or chopping it up will help it break down quicker
Nitrogenchicken manureexcellent compost 'activator'
NitrogenCloverAdd it for a bit of luck!
NitrogenCoffee grounds (and filters)Great source of nitrogen and worms love coffee grounds! The filter will break down so add it too!
NitrogenCotton BurGreat to use to jump start your pile or warm it up
NitrogenCowpeasAdd them if you got them!
NitrogenDog foodBest if not a meat based dog food
NitrogenEelgrassIf dry use as a carbon
NitrogenFeathersSlow to break down, shred if possible to speed up process
Nitrogenflowers, cuttingsGreen use as Nitrogen, dried use as carbon
Nitrogenfruit and vegetable scrapsadd with dry carbon items
NitrogenFruit peels (not limes)Best if you cut them up to small pieces
Nitrogengrass clippingsadd in thin layers so they don't mat into clumps
Nitrogengreen comfrey leavesexcellent compost 'activator'
NitrogenHairGood source of nitrogen. Make sure you scatter, so it doesn't clump.
NitrogenHayThe best kind is hay that is not suitable for livestock and is starting to decay on its own. Make sure it is dry and weathered.
Nitrogenlawn and garden weedsonly use weeds which have not gone to seed
NitrogenLeather (leather waste)Shredding or chopping it up will help it break down quicker
NitrogenManure from herbivores (cow, horse, pig, sheep, chicken, rabbit)Best if known to come from a herbivore
Nitrogenseaweed and kelpapply in thin layers; good source for trace minerals
Nitrogentable scrapsadd with dry carbon items
Nitrogentea leavesloose or in bags
ALSO READ  Mason Bees are the Gentle Pollinators

Materials You Should Not Compost

MaterialsDetails
Ashes (coal or charcoal)May contain materials that are toxic to plants.
Cat droppings/litterThese may contain disease organisms and should always be avoided for composting.
Colored paper 
Dog droppingsSame as cats.
LimeHigh alkaline pH can kill composting action.
Meat, fat, grease, oils, bonesDo not break down, can coat materials and "preserve" them, can attract pests.
Nonbiodegradable materials 
Toxic materials

About Gardener Joe

Every year I look in my back yard and debate on whether to have a garden again. Sometimes the effort to maintain a productful garden feels like more than it is worth. But, come spring, I inevitably give in and prepare the seedlings and work the soil. It's been that way for the last 9 years. Hopefully some of what I have learned, along with tidbits from others can help you and your garden grow.

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