What to Put in Compost for Nutrient-rich Soil

What to Put in Compost: A Complete Guide for Effective Composting

Composting is an eco-friendly way to reduce waste and create nutrient-rich soil for your garden. By recycling organic materials, you can contribute to a sustainable environment while cultivating healthier plants. But what exactly should you put in your compost bin? In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the key components that make up an ideal compost mix.

The Basics of Composting

Before diving into the specific items suitable for composting, let’s review some basic principles that apply to most types of composting:

1. Brown Materials: These are carbon-rich materials such as dry leaves, straw, sawdust, shredded paper, or cardboard. They provide structure and ensure proper airflow within the pile.

2. Green Materials: These are nitrogen-rich materials like grass clippings, vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, or fresh plant trimmings. They provide essential nutrients and help speed up decomposition.

3. Air and Moisture: Adequate oxygen levels and moisture are crucial for efficient breakdown of organic matter in the compost pile. Ensure regular turning or mixing to promote aeration and maintain optimal moisture levels (similar to a damp sponge).

Now that we have covered these basics let’s move on to discussing specific items suitable for composting:

Fruit & Vegetable Scraps

One of the easiest ways to start composting is by collecting fruit and vegetable scraps from your kitchen. This includes peels (except citrus), cores/seeds/pits (excluding apple seeds), stems/leaves from various produce such as lettuce or herbs.

Avoid adding any moldy or spoiled food items as they may introduce harmful pathogens into your pile.

Coffee Grounds & Tea Leaves

Coffee grounds are high in nitrogen and add an excellent boost to your compost. They are a perfect addition if you’re looking for a way to recycle your morning coffee waste! Similarly, tea leaves (not the bags) can be incorporated into your compost pile.


Eggshells are rich in calcium carbonate, which helps balance the pH level of acidic compost. Rinse them out and crush them before adding them to your bin for faster decomposition.

Grass Clippings & Yard Waste

If you mow your lawn regularly or have trimmed branches and plant debris from gardening, these materials can be valuable additions to your compost pile. Ensure that grass clippings are spread thinly or mixed with other ingredients to prevent clumping.

Avoid using yard waste treated with herbicides or pesticides, as they may disrupt the natural decomposition process or harm beneficial organisms in the soil.

Leaves & Prunings

Fallen leaves make an excellent carbon-rich addition to your compost heap. Shred large leaves or run over them with a lawnmower before adding them to speed up decomposition. Likewise, pruned branches (cut into small pieces) contribute well-balanced organic matter.

Avoid using diseased plants in your compost as they may spread diseases later when applied onto healthy plants.

Paper Products & Cardboard

Shredded paper products like newspapers or office papers can provide necessary carbon content while helping maintain airflow within the pile. Similarly, corrugated cardboard pieces serve as effective brown materials if torn into smaller bits before tossing into the mix.

Ensure any papers used for composting are free of plastic coatings such as glossy magazines or colored paper stock as these do not readily decompose and might contaminate the final product.

Wrapping It Up

Composting is a wonderful practice that allows us to reduce waste while creating nutrient-rich soil for our gardens. By following the basic principles and incorporating a variety of compostable materials, you can create a successful compost pile that works wonders for your plants and the environment.

Remember to avoid adding meat, dairy products, oily foods, or pet waste in your compost bin as they may attract pests or introduce harmful bacteria. With patience and consistent effort, you’ll soon enjoy the benefits of rich, dark compost that will nourish your garden all year round!