Composting Basics

All composting requires three basic ingredients:

  • Browns - This includes materials such as dead leaves, branches, and twigs.
  • Greens - This includes materials such as grass clippings, vegetable waste, fruit scraps, and coffee grounds.
  • Water - Having the right amount of water, greens, and browns is important for compost development.

Your compost pile should have an equal amount of browns to greens. You should also alternate layers of organic materials of different-sized particles. The brown materials provide carbon for your compost, the green materials provide nitrogen, and the water provides moisture to help break down the organic matter.

What To Compost

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Eggshells
  • Coffee grounds and filters
  • Tea bags
  • Nut shells
  • Shredded newspaper
  • Cardboard
  • Paper
  • Yard trimmings
  • Grass clippings
  • Houseplants
  • Hay and straw
  • Leaves
  • Sawdust
  • Wood chips
  • Cotton and Wool Rags
  • Hair and fur
  • Fireplace ashes

 

What Not To Compost and Why

  • Black walnut tree leaves or twigs
    - Releases substances that might be harmful to plants
  • Coal or charcoal ash
    - Might contain substances harmful to plants
  • Dairy products (e.g., butter, milk, sour cream, yogurt) and eggs*
    - Create odor problems and attract pests such as rodents and flies
  • Diseased or insect-ridden plants
    - Diseases or insects might survive and be transferred back to other plants
  • Fats, grease, lard, or oils*
    - Create odor problems and attract pests such as rodents and flies
  • Meat or fish bones and scraps*
    - Create odor problems and attract pests such as rodents and flies
  • Pet wastes (e.g., dog or cat feces, soiled cat litter)*
    - Might contain parasites, bacteria, germs, pathogens, and viruses harmful to humans
  • Yard trimmings treated with chemical pesticides
    - Might kill beneficial composting organisms

    * Check with your local composting or recycling coordinator to see if these organics are accepted by your community curbside or drop-off composting program.


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