What Can I Put in a Compost Bin?
Composting is an excellent way to reduce waste, save money on fertilizers, and create nutrient-rich soil for your garden. But if you’re new to composting, you might be wondering what exactly can go into a compost bin. This article will guide you through the dos and don’ts of composting materials.
The Basics: Green and Brown Materials
A successful compost pile requires a balance between green materials (nitrogen-rich) and brown materials (carbon-rich). The greens provide essential nitrogen for microbial activity, while browns add carbon and help maintain airflow. Here are some examples:
- Green Materials: Fruit & vegetable scraps, coffee grounds & filters, tea bags, grass clippings (in moderation), plant trimmings.
- Brown Materials: Dried leaves, wood chips or sawdust (untreated), shredded newspaper or cardboard (avoid glossy paper).
Fruit & Vegetable Scraps
Your kitchen can be a treasure trove of compostable items! All fruit and vegetable scraps should go into your compost bin. This includes peels, cores, seeds/seeds removed from produce like pumpkins or melons.
Coffee Grounds & Filters
If you’re an avid coffee drinker like me – fear not! Coffee grounds are fantastic additions to your compost pile due to their rich nitrogen content. Just remember to remove any paper filters before tossing them in!
This might come as a surprise but used tea bags also make great additions to your compost bin. They contribute valuable nutrients that aid decomposition processes.
Grass Clippings (In Moderation)
If you prefer maintaining a manicured lawn, don’t let those grass clippings go to waste! While too many fresh grass clippings can create a slimy mess, they’re ideal when used in moderation. Mix them with other materials and avoid large clumps.
After pruning your plants or tending to your garden, save those trimmings for composting. Just remember to chop them into smaller pieces before adding them to the bin. This will speed up the decomposition process.
Avoid These Materials
In order to maintain a healthy compost pile and avoid any issues, it’s important not to include certain items:
- Dairy Products & Meats: These can attract pests and produce unpleasant odors.
- Oily/Fatty Foods: Grease or oil from cooking should be avoided as they hinder airflow within the pile.
- Bones: Large bones take an extremely long time to decompose; leave these out of your compost bin!
- Pet Waste & Kitty Litter: These may contain harmful pathogens that could contaminate your compost.
- Weeds with Seeds or Diseased Plants: To prevent weed spread or disease recurrence, it’s best not to introduce these into the mix.
Last Tips on Composting Success
To ensure successful decomposition and minimize odor issues in your compost bin, keep these additional tips in mind:
Airflow is Crucial
Mixing and turning the contents of your compost bin regularly helps maintain proper airflow. This increases the efficiency of decomposition and prevents unpleasant smells.
Aim for a moist, but not wet, environment in your compost pile. If it becomes too dry, add some water; if it’s excessively wet, mix in more brown materials to absorb excess moisture.
Patience is Key
Remember that composting takes time. Depending on factors such as temperature and the materials used, the process can take several months to a year before you have rich, dark compost ready for use. Patience will be rewarded!
A well-balanced compost bin can transform kitchen scraps and yard waste into valuable organic fertilizer for your garden. By knowing what materials are suitable – like fruit & vegetable scraps, coffee grounds & filters, tea bags, grass clippings (in moderation), and plant trimmings – you’ll be off to a great start! Remember to avoid dairy products/meats, oily/fatty foods, bones,
pet waste/kitty litter,
weeds with seeds or diseased plants.
With these guidelines in mind and by following our additional tips for success regarding airflow and moisture levels while being patient throughout the process – you’ll soon reap the benefits of nutrient-rich soil that will nourish your plants effectively.