What to Put in Your Composter for Optimal Results

What to Put in Composter: A Complete Guide

Composting is an excellent way to reduce waste and create nutrient-rich soil for your garden. If you are new to composting, you may wonder what items can be added to your composter. In this comprehensive guide, we will break down the dos and don’ts of composting, helping you make the most out of your composter.

The Basics of Composting

Before diving into what can specifically be put in a composter, let’s review the basics. Composting involves breaking down organic materials into a dark, crumbly substance known as humus. This process requires a careful balance between green (nitrogen-rich) and brown (carbon-rich) materials alongside air and water.

Gathering Green Materials

Green materials are rich in nitrogen and provide essential nutrients for microorganisms that thrive during the decomposition process. Here are some common green materials suitable for composting:

  • Kitchen scraps such as fruit peels, vegetable trimmings, coffee grounds, tea bags (remove staples), and crushed eggshells
  • Fresh yard waste like grass clippings or weeds without seeds
  • Houseplants’ leaves or pruned stems
  • Fresh livestock manure (cow/horse/sheep/chicken) – ensure it’s from herbivores only!

Note: Avoid putting meat scraps or bones in your composter as they attract pests.

Brown Material Essentials

Brown materials provide carbon necessary for maintaining proper moisture levels while preventing odors associated with excessive nitrogen content. Examples of brown materials include:

  • Dry leaves, straw, or hay
  • Shredded newspaper (no colored ink) or cardboard
  • Wood chips or sawdust (in moderation)
  • Dried plants and flowers

Avoid adding too many brown materials as it may slow down the decomposition process.

Avoid These Composting Don’ts

To ensure successful composting, there are certain items you should avoid putting in your composter:

  • Meat and dairy products: They can attract pests and cause unpleasant odors.
  • Fats, oils, and grease: These substances take longer to break down and can create an imbalance in your compost.
  • Coal ashes or charcoal briquettes: They contain chemicals that may harm plants when used in large quantities.
  • Pet waste: It can contain harmful bacteria that may affect the quality of your compost. Avoid adding cat litter specifically, as it contains toxins harmful to humans.Weeds with seeds or invasive plants: Seeds might survive the composting process and potentially spread around your garden when applied later. Similarly, invasive plant parts could lead to unwanted growth.

Tips for Successful Composting

To optimize your composting experience:

  1. Maintain balance: Aim for a ratio of approximately three parts brown material to one part green material by volume for optimal decomposition. Adjust accordingly based on moisture levels and microbial activity.

    Mix & chop: Regularly turn over the contents of your composter using a pitchfork or shovel. Chopping larger materials into smaller pieces accelerates decomposition.

    Keep it moist: Moisture is vital for the composting process. Aim for a moist but not soggy consistency, similar to a wrung-out sponge.

    Aerate regularly: Ensure proper airflow by regularly turning or mixing your compost pile. This helps prevent unpleasant odors and encourages faster breakdown.

In conclusion, knowing what to put in your composter is key to successful composting. By incorporating the right balance of green and brown materials along with proper maintenance, you can create high-quality compost that enriches your soil while helping reduce waste. Happy composting!