Composting 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.
See the lists below for items that can and should not be included in your compost.
|Green Materials||Brown Materials||Non-Compostables|
|Coffee grounds||Shredded newspaper, office and school paper, non-glossy junk mail, post-its||Black walnut tree leaves, twigs, branches|
|Fruit and vegetable peels and rinds||Empty toilet paper, paper towel, wrapping paper rolls||Coal, charcoal ash|
|Tea leaves and bags||Torn up corrugated cardboard, cereal boxes||Dairy products - milk, butter, sour cream, yogurt, cheese, ice cream, yogurt|
|Old and spoiled fruits and vegetables||Brown paper bags||Eggs|
|Weeds before going to seed||Paper napkins and tissues||Diseased or insect-ridden plants|
|Plant and grass clippings||Paper coffee filters||Fats, grease, lard, oils|
|Fresh leaves||Fall leaves||Meats, fish bones, scraps|
|Deadheads from flowers||Paper coffee filters||Pet or human waste|
|Dead NOT diseased plants||Felt waste||Pet litter|
|Corn cobs and husks||Excelsior||Yard wastes treated with chemicals|
|Spent flower bulbs||Burlap bags|
|Old herbs and spices||Coir liners from hanging baskets|
|Holiday greenery||Spent matches|
|Seaweed||Pet fur and hair clippings|
|Sod and moss||Dryer lint|
|Eggshells||Wood chips, ash, and sawdust from non-treated wood|
|Cooked plain rice and pasta||Straw|
|Old cookies, breads and cereals||Animal bedding|
|Pickles||Twigs, small branches, pine cones, pine needles|
|Bee droppings||Left over peat from seed starting|
|Unpopped popcorn kernels||Raffia|
|Jello||Nutshells, olive pits|
|Old wine and beer||Old bird nest materials|
|Liquid from canned fruit and vegetables||Shrimp, crab, lobster shells|
|Dead insects||Old wool socks, furs|
|Old movie tickets, grocery store receipts|
|Coconut hull fiber|