garbage to gardenComposting is a great way to reduce household trash while producing useful materials for your garden.  It has the added benefit of being low-cost and easy to implement.

To produce good compost, your set-up will require a few things.

  • Aeration: your compost needs to breathe. Mix to keep loosely tumbled (you can give a plastic bin a good shake to accomplish this or toss compost with a pitchfork or roll a can to tumble contents.
  • Moisture: not saturated, not dry, but moist.  If you are adding a number of dry materials, you can use a misting sprayer with water to moisten.
  • Heat: a relatively closed space will allow for heat to build up. This helps to speed up the rate of decomposition and the production of final compost material.
  • Green and Brown Materials: You should have a 50% mixture of items that are rich in either nitrogen (green: food waste, live yard scraps) or carbon (brown: leaf litter, sawdust, shredded paper) to keep a good balance for the final product. Layering of materials works best.

Compost bin options

Composting resources

See the lists below for items that can and should not be included in your compost.

Green MaterialsBrown MaterialsNon-Compostables
Coffee groundsShredded newspaper, office and school paper, non-glossy junk mail, post-itsBlack walnut tree leaves, twigs, branches
Fruit and vegetable peels and rindsEmpty toilet paper, paper towel, wrapping paper rollsCoal, charcoal ash
Tea leaves and bagsTorn up corrugated cardboard, cereal boxesDairy products - milk, butter, sour cream, yogurt, cheese, ice cream, yogurt
Old and spoiled fruits and vegetablesBrown paper bagsEggs
Weeds before going to seedPaper napkins and tissuesDiseased or insect-ridden plants
Plant and grass clippingsPaper coffee filtersFats, grease, lard, oils
Fresh leavesFall leavesMeats, fish bones, scraps
Deadheads from flowersPaper coffee filtersPet or human waste
Dead NOT diseased plantsFelt wastePet litter
Corn cobs and husksExcelsiorYard wastes treated with chemicals
Spent flower bulbsBurlap bags
Old herbs and spicesCoir liners from hanging baskets
Holiday greenerySpent matches
SeaweedPet fur and hair clippings
Sod and mossDryer lint
EggshellsWood chips, ash, and sawdust from non-treated wood
Cooked plain rice and pastaStraw
Old cookies, breads and cerealsAnimal bedding
PicklesTwigs, small branches, pine cones, pine needles
Bee droppingsLeft over peat from seed starting
Unpopped popcorn kernelsRaffia
JelloNutshells, olive pits
Old wine and beerOld bird nest materials
Liquid from canned fruit and vegetablesShrimp, crab, lobster shells
Dead insectsOld wool socks, furs
Old movie tickets, grocery store receipts
Pencil shavings
Coconut hull fiber
Wooden toothpicks


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