Tuesday, October 18, 2011


We have not started our compost pile yet, hope to do that soon, but I've been doing some research so that I can learn more about it ahead of time and I thought I'd share that in a series of articles about composting.

When you get ready to start, there are decisions that need to be made when you get ready to throw away trash.  Does it just go to the regular trash?  Or the recycle bin?  Or, can you put it in your compost pile?

I would think that most of the time it will be fairly obvious, but since I'm going to be new to composting, I wondered what should NOT go into the the soon to be compost bin?  I found the following information to be very helpful:

Typical Home Compost Bin

  • Breads - All types of bread products, including cakes, pasta and baked goods, should not go into the pile because they can attract pests.
  • Cooking Oils - Another kitchen item that should go into the trash bin instead of the compost pile.  It can attract animals and insects and can upset the moisture balance of your compost pile.
  • Meat and Milk Products - Meat scraps, milk, cheese, yogurt, cream, bones or other fatty foods will degrade but they’ll attract pests in the process.
  • Diseased Plants - They can transfer fungal or bacterial issues to your finished compost.
  • Colored and Glossy Paper - Plain white paper? Newspaper? No problem. But anything that is heavily coated, with that slick paper like magazines or wrapping paper, should head to the recycling bin.  The stuff from the ink doesn’t break down, so you will end up with chemicals in your compost and you don't want that on your garden.
  • Human or Animal Waste - Diapers, the kitty litter and your dog’s poop bags should never make their way into the compost...this can be a health risk.
  • Charcoal Ashes - They can be toxic to the good microorganisms.
  • Rice - Believe it or not, cooked rice can breed dangerous bacteria, and raw rice can attract rodents and insects.
  • Sawdust - If the wood was untreated, it's okay.  If not, again you will end up with chemicals in your compost.
  • Weeds - Sometimes, these stubborn plants will simply put down their roots and start growing rather than decomposing.
  • Walnuts - Most nuts are okay, but walnuts contain a compound ("juglone") which is toxic to some plants.
  • Highly Acidic Items - A few things that fall into this category are citrus fruits, tomato products and pickles.  The acid can actually kill the good bacteria that your compost grows.  Again, it's a moderation thing, a few are OK, just don't dump a bushel of old oranges in your compost, or a gallon of pickles and their juice.  A few scraps after a dinner will be OK.
So after all of this, how do you know if things are heading in the right direction in your compost pile?  It's simple, just smell it.  I know, it sounds gross, but it's not...even while the items are decomposing, your pile shouldn’t produce a bad smell.  That odor could attract pests.  If you do notice a smell, take a second look at what you are including in your pile.
The bottom line is you are trying to avoid adding chemicals and the other bad things to your pile.  You want quality, nutrient rich compost to add to your garden.  Just remember, what you put in there, you put in your body. 
Hope this information helps!  Your plants will love you for it!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this info. We are starting a compost bin and I told my husband that we couldn't just throw anything in there. He said we could. I'm glad to know I was right, ha. Love your blog, keep writing and posting!


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