Saturday, April 19, 2008

Compost Guidelines

This is a very helpful website if you are interested in learning more about composting. As I said here, I am not diligent with my compost, but it does provide a handy place to put kitchen and garden scraps.

Following is a chart listing common composting materials

Type of Material Use it? Carbon/ Nitrogen Details
Algae, seaweed and lake moss Yes N Good nutrient source.
Ashes from coal or charcoal No n/a May contain materials bad for plants.
Ashes from untreated, unpainted wood Careful Neutral Fine amounts at most. Can make the pile too alkaline and suppress composting.
Beverages, kitchen rinse water Yes Neutral Good to moisten the middle of the pile. Don't over-moisten the pile.
Bird droppings Careful N May contain weed seeds or disease organisms.
Cardboard Yes C Shred into small pieces if you use it. Wetting it makes it easier to tear. If you have a lot, consider recycling instead.
Cat droppings or cat litter No n/a May contain disease organisms. Avoid.
Coffee ground and filters Yes N Worms love coffee grounds and coffee filters.
Compost activator Not required, but ok. Neutral You don't really need it, but it doesn't hurt.
Cornstalks, corn cobs Yes C Best if shredded and mixed well with nitrogen rich materials.
Diseased plants Careful N If your pile doesn't get hot enough, it might not kill the organisms, so be careful. Let it cure several months, and don't use resulting compost near the type of plant that was diseased.
Dog droppings No n/a Avoid.
Dryer lint Yes C Compost away! Moistening helps.
Eggshells Yes O Break down slowly. Crushing shells helps.
Fish scraps No n/a Can attract rodents and cause a stinky pile.
Hair Yes N Scatter so it isn't in clumps.
Lime No n/a Can kill composting action. Avoid.
Manure (horse, cow, pig, sheep, goat, chicken, rabbit) Yes N
Great source of nitrogen. Mix with carbon rich materials so it breaks down better.
Meat, fat, grease, oils, bones No n/a Avoid.
Milk, cheese, yogurt Careful Neutral Put it deep in the pile to avoid attracting animals.
Newspaper Yes C Shred it so it breaks down easier. It is easy to add too much newspaper, so recycle instead if you have a lot. Don't add slick colored pages.
Oak leaves Yes C Shredding leaves helps them break down faster. They decompose slowly. Acidic.
Sawdust and wood shavings (untreated wood) Yes C You'll need a lot of nitrogen materials to make up for the high carbon content. Don't use too much, and don't use treated woods.
Pine needles and cones Yes C
Don't overload the pile. Also acidic and decomposes slowly.
Weeds Careful N
Dry them out on the pavement, then add later.
Sod Careful N Make sure the pile is hot enough, so grass doesn't continue growing.

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