The quality of your compost and the speed with which you get the finished product is determined in large part by the materials you add to the compost pile. Believe it or not, you actually need a proper balance of organic materials to aid in the process. Adding the right mixture of the proper ingredients will ensure that everything decomposes quickly and efficiently. Here is a list at some everyday things you can compost.
Brown material is high in carbon, which is an important element for decomposition. It prevents the green material from becoming smelly and slimy, and it provides good bacteria and microbes that slow the decay of the nitrogen in the green material. Common brown material includes the following:
- Shredded paper
- Shredded cardboard
- Vegetable stalks
- Peanut shells
- Pine needles
- Sawdust (from untreated wood)
- Tea bags
If you notice that your pile has a rotten smell, it is important that you add more of these brown materials to the mix. Layer in between the green materials for the best results.
Green material is high in nitrogen which is also a key component in decomposition as it interacts with the carbon. Without the green material the compost pile would take a painfully long time to develop into rich compost. Here are some common green items:
- Coffee grounds
- Food waste
- Vegetable scraps
- Plant stems and cuttings
Like the brown material, green material should be broken down as much as possible before adding it to your bin. The best way to make sure that you have a successful composting pile is to add a wide variety of items. Adding too much of any of the above may tend to slow the decomposition and could even impede your compost from producing the nutrient rich black gold you desire. It is not that hard to maintain a good balance, but a little trial and error may be necessary at first.
Things To Avoid
While many things can be composted, not all items fit the bill. Meat, fish, fat, and dairy should be avoided because they can cause the pile to stink and even attract animals. Pet droppings should also be avoided because they can carry disease and will likely make your compost toxic. Also stay away from inorganic materials such as plastic, glass, foil, metals, and pressure-treated lumber.
The exact items you can compost will depend largely on the method of composting you are doing and the type of bin you have (if any). For the best results, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on any bin you purchase.