Natural Gardening

 
 

 

Non-Edible Composting Items

In addition to the acceptable food scraps you can use to compost there are many different organic items you can add too.  Some of the items on the list may surprise you while others will be ones you have heard of before.  Just remember, by composting these items you are reducing the amount of waste that your home produces.

Additional Composting Materials:

* Lint collected from your dryer
* Cardboard, cut into strips or small pieces
* Hair, make sure that is isn’t put in as one large clump
* Manure (from a horse, pig, or cow)
* Tree leaves, cutting or chipping them helps them break down faster
* Newspaper (considered brown food), cut into strips.  Do not use the glossy pages and do not add too much (it can dry out the pile)
* Pine needles and pine cones
* Coffee grounds and paper filter
* Sawdust and wood chips (or shavings) as long as it is from untreated wood.
* Straw -  even better if it is used straw from horse bedding
* Grass clippings (green food)
* Seaweed or algae (you can get these from your home aquarium)

There are a few considerations to think about when choosing from the above list of items. 

If you do use dryer lint, it would be wise to only use it from cycles when you washed clothes with natural fibers – man-made fibers would not breakdown in your compost.  If you are using your compost for your garden be extra careful that everything you add has not been treated – such as grass clippings.   If any type of commercial fertilizer or pesticide has been sprayed on the grass do not add it to your compost bin.  Larger items should be broken down as much as possible to speed up their decomposition.

  

What not to Put in your Composting Bin

There are many things you can use to make a good compost humus (which is what the final product is called).  There are also quite a few items that should never go into your compost bin.  Listed below are many of the materials you should not try to compost and
why it is not a good idea.

Ashes from charcoal should not be added to your compost, you can add very small amount of ashes from a fire that was made with untreated wood.  It is not a good idea to add a lot though because it can change the composition and make it too alkaline.

Do not add any kind of droppings from an animal that is not a vegetarian.  Animals that pass the compost inspection include horses, cows, rabbits, and goats.  You can even add droppings from hamster or other indoor pets.  But stay away from bird, dog, and cat droppings (including cat litter).  They all can contain harmful organisms.

Any type of animal waste such as leftover meat, oil, bones, or fish waste are off-limits.  They all can cause your pile to smell badly and can attract unwanted pests.

Milk, yogurt, cheese, or any other milk product should be added with caution.  They all will attract animals and pests.  If you do decide to add them, do so in small amounts and cover them with plenty of brown food afterwards.

You can add weeds, but you should take care to ensure your composting is functioning properly.  If your compost is not generating enough heat the weeds will not be destroyed and can grow again once you spread your compost.  You can dry your weeds on a sidewalk or on some concrete before added to the pile as an added precaution to make
sure they do not survive.

  


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Nathaniel Hawthorne
"I used to visit and revisit it a dozen times a day, and stand in deep contemplation over my vegetable progeny with a love that nobody could share or conceive of who had never taken part in the process of creation.  It was one of the most bewitching sights in the world to observe a hill of beans thrusting aside the soil, or a rose of early peas just peeping forth sufficiently to trace a line of delicate green."  ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mosses from and Old Manse