Compost Ingredients




Prior Page



L
lard
Do not compost.

Return to List of Compost Ingredients

lake weed
Nitrogen. Provides a good source of trace elements.

Return to List of Compost Ingredients

laurel leaves
Carbon. Can make a good mulch, shredding is a plus. Compost in backyard "slow-compost bin". Shred first if possible. Please note that we are telling you it is OK to COMPOST laurel leaves, not to put them in your mouth. They are poisonous, even fatal if eaten. So safely dispose of laurel leaves rather than composting or mulching them if there are children, mentally-challenged individuals, or other people with access to your property who may put leaves, mulch, or compost in their mouth.

Return to List of Compost Ingredients

lawn trimmings
See See Grass Clippings.

Return to List of Compost Ingredients

leaves
Carbon (40-80:1). Evergreen leaves are higher in carbon, so shred before composting.

Compost in worm bin or compost pile. Deciduous leaves are best for composting.

Leaves can also be used as a mulch. Shred first. Apply 3 inches deep. Wind and rain can "relocate" leaf mulch, so blend with other materials if possible.

Return to List of Compost Ingredients

legume shells
Nitrogen (30:1). Legumes include peas, soybeans, etc. Compost in compost pile.

Return to List of Compost Ingredients

lettuce
Nitrogen. Compost in worm bin. See Food Wastes.

Return to List of Compost Ingredients

lime
Neither carbon nor nitrogen. May add to finished compost or soil if soil tests prove it is needed. It can kill composting organisms and may also produce ammonia gas. Some people automatically add lime when putting acidic materials into their compost piles, but a healthy compost pile should get to a balanced pH without it.

Return to List of Compost Ingredients

litter
Do not compost. See See Cat Feces.

Return to List of Compost Ingredients




M
magazines
Do not compost. Some people compost in worm bins and there is some evidence that the digestive processes of the worms break down harmful substances in the heavy inks, but the results are inconclusive. Worm composting may be advisable if you are not using the finished castings for vegetation for consumption.

Check with your local library. The library system in Plano, TX, USA has a system set up for citizens to donate their used books and magazines to the library. The library sells these books and magazines for various prices ranging from fifty cents to three dollars. The proceeds from these sales contributes to the cost of running the library. This is an excellent way to contribute to the community and recycle at the same time.

Check with your local school, church, day care, or children's camp. Many use magazine pictures for art projects and would appreciate your donation of child-appropriate magazines. Hospitals often accept them for use in their many waiting rooms.

Many communities recycle magazines and they just need to be placed in the appropriate recycle bins for trash pickup. If your municipal government does not recycle, look around in church and school parking lots. Private recycling companies sometimes place huge garbage bins marked for recycling in parking lots in communities do not recycle through trash pickup.

Return to List of Compost Ingredients

manure
Nitrogen (20-25:1) when rotted. Higher in nitrogen when fresh. Pig (5:1). Poultry (10:1). Horse (25:1). Cow (20:1) Other farm animals (14:1). Compost in pile. (Does not apply to cat, dog or bird feces.)

Return to List of Compost Ingredients

mayonnaise
Do not compost.

Return to List of Compost Ingredients

meat and meat bones
Do not compost. These items will eventually decompose. We do not recommend that you compost them in your backyard compost pile because they are likely to create odor problems and attract pests such as rodents and flies. (In addition to being a general nuisance, rodents and flies may carry diseases.) Your area may have ordinances against composting these items for the same reasons.

I would like to add a word of explanation about composting vegetative food wastes (i.e., plant food wastes) versus meat and animal products. While surfing the Internet, you will find that many people compost VEGETATIVE wastes in backyard piles even though we do not recommend it. Composting vegetative wastes can be done at low risk in a pile IF IT IS DONE PROPERLY, but we have no way over the Internet to demonstrate for you the safe way to do this. If it is done improperly, you will attract pests which could carry diseases and produce very bad consequences. BE AWARE THAT COMPOSTING ANIMAL PRODUCTS AT HOME IS MUCH, MUCH, MUCH RISKIER THAN COMPOSTING VEGETATIVE MATTER. I don't know of anyone who does this with one exception, and and that one person does this work for a living and is highly trained. There is no way of which I am aware to compost meat products at home. I NEVER compost meat at home. Having meat in your compost piles will attract meat-eating animals, which are usually far more aggressive towards humans that vegetative animals. Please, please, please do not put animal products in your home pile.

Return to List of Compost Ingredients

milk
Do not compost. See Dairy Products

Return to List of Compost Ingredients






N
newspaper
Carbon (200-500:1). In some areas, soiled newspaper is not acceptable for municipal recycling. Contact your local solid waste department to find out.

Newspaper may be composted, but contains high amounts of carbon, so it may not be convenient to compost it in your backyard bin. Shred and soak in water before putting in backyard pile. Shredding is required because it mats easily. Be aware that there is not a lot of nutrient value in newspaper.

You can also soak in water, then shred and put into your worm bin as bedding.

Newspaper can be used under a layer of mulch which is several inches thick, or wood chip paths if there are no plants currently growing there which you want to keep. When preparing a new bed, this is a good way to get rid of a lot of weeds. The paper will keep out the light, so the weeds will not survive.

Concerns:
The information above contains recommendations usually given by Master Composters, experts and authors on composting. I have received a lot of questions about newspapers, so I am going to go into a little more detail here.

With regard to composting newspapers with black ink, I have only heard one mention of controversy. Otherwise, I have found that composting newspapers is acceptable. (As mentioned above, it is not usually recommended for use in a backyard pile because of the problems of matting, low nutrient value and slow decomposition.) The one controversial source was the book "Let It Rot" by Stu Campbell. He says that the carbon black ink contains polycyclicaromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) which are a known carcinogen. Stu says

"Although the jury is still out, most scientific research to date indicates that PAHs are rendered inert by the temperatures of a hot compost pile, the biological activity, and the acids in the soil. Most newspaper inks no longer contain heavy metals, and most colored newsprint now uses vegetable dyes, so as long as you don't intensively compost with newspapers you can use it as a carbon source."
With regard to newspapers, A Green Guide to Yard Care published by the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission says, "Most inks today are safe for garden use." To be completely safe, call your newspaper and ask about the ink or use compost made from newspapers on non-edibles like your lawn, ornamentals, flowers, and trees, rather than your vegetable garden.

Do NOT compost advertising inserts. Ad inserts are printed by someone other than the newspaper. Most companies still print inserts with heavy metal inks, especially the glossy ones. Some colored inks have heavy metals in them which, in large quantities, are toxic to microorganisms. Small quantities such as the occasional colored ad in the newspaper have negligible effects.

With society's emphasis on recycling, most newspapers have started using vegetable dyes for colored advertisements and the comics. (If your newspaper uses vegetable dyes, you can compost the comics, too.) Unfortunately, there is no way to be certain which dye they use by looking at the printed page. To make sure, call your local newspaper and ask them if they use vegetable dyes.

Return to List of Compost Ingredients

nut shells
Carbon. Compost in backyard compost pile. If you have a large quantity, nut shells may also be used for mulch. There is a vendor near Fort Worth that sells pecan shells as mulch and I believe it is the prettiest mulch I have ever seen.

Return to List of Compost Ingredients






O
oak leaves
Nitrogen. Compost in backyard compost pile.

Oak leaves are unusual in that most leaves are carbon, i.e., increase the carbon:nitrogen ratio of the pile. Oak leaves should be added as a nitrogen material.

Return to List of Compost Ingredients

oat straw
Carbon (74:1). Compost in compost pile.

Return to List of Compost Ingredients

oils of any kind
Do not compost.

Return to List of Compost Ingredients

onion peel
Nitrogen. Compost in worm bin. Don't use a large quantity. Just like humans, they can only take so much onion before they get tired of it. See Food Wastes.

Return to List of Compost Ingredients

orange peel
Nitrogen. Compost in worm bin, but not in overwhelming quantities. Citrus peel are notorious for carrying fruit flies, so zap the peels in your microwave for 30 seconds to kill any eggs before you put the peels into your worm bin. See Food Wastes.

I have read that if you bury shredded orange peel in the top layer of soil, it will repel cats and dogs from digging.

Return to List of Compost Ingredients






P
paper
Carbon (170:1). Composts best in worm bins, but may also be used in compost piles if shredded thoroughly and mixed with other materials.

Do not use paper that has colored ink (which may contain toxic substances) or is glossy or coated.

Paper can also be used under a layer of mulch which is several inches thick, or wood chip paths if there are no plants currently growing there which you want to keep. When preparing a new bed, this is a good way to get rid of a lot of weeds. The paper will keep out the light, so the weeds will not survive.

Also, see Newspapers above.

Return to List of Compost Ingredients

pet feces
SeeSee Dog Feces and Cat Feces. A soil ingestor is useful for these wastes.

Return to List of Compost Ingredients

peanut butter
Do not compost.

Return to List of Compost Ingredients

pears
Nitrogen. Compost in worm bin. See Food Wastes.

Return to List of Compost Ingredients

pet food
Do not compost in a pile as it may attract pests. Compost in ingestor or possibly worm bin.

Return to List of Compost Ingredients

pine needles
Carbon. Use to mulch acid-loving plants, e.g., rhododendrons, azaleas, camelias, blueberries. Apply 3 to 5 inches.

I received an email from a reader stating "Pine needles work as a straw replacement for strawberries. I apply them after the ground freezes in the fall and in the summer between the rows."

Can be composted in the pile as a carbon. Will take a while to compost. They are acidic, but as long as the majority of your pile is not pine needles or other acidic ingredients, the composting process should balance the pH.

Return to List of Compost Ingredients

pineapple
Nitrogen. Compost in worm bin, but watch to make sure you don't add so much that you make your bin acidic. Pineapple juice is so acidic it literally removes fingerprints from the hands of people who work in pineapple factory (the condition isn't permanent). See Food Wastes.

Return to List of Compost Ingredients

poisonous plants
Do not compost. This includes plants such as poison ivy.

Return to List of Compost Ingredients

potatoes
Nitrogen. Compost in worm bin. See Food Wastes.

Return to List of Compost Ingredients

prunings
Twigs will be Carbon. Deciduous leaves will be nitrogen. Compost in backyard "slow-compost bin". Chop first.

Return to List of Compost Ingredients

pumpkin
Nitrogen. Compost in worm bin. See Food Wastes.

I composted a pumpkin in my soil ingestor. The meaty part composted well, but the stem is still there, almost in its original condition.

I also composted pumpkins in my compost pile. Yes, I know composting food in a pile is not recommended, but since I did it I wanted you to benefit from my experience. The pumpkins composted really well in the center of a highly carbon pile. I didn't remove the seeds because I wanted to see what would happen. What happened was a prolific crop of pumpkins sprouting out of my compost pile in all directions. If you know how to properly compost food in piles and want to compost pumpkins, remove the seeds first.

Return to List of Compost Ingredients






Q
There are currently no items under "Q".

Return to List of Compost Ingredients






R
rhododendron leaves
Carbon. Can make a good mulch, shredding is a plus. Compost in backyard "slow-compost bin". Shred first if possible.

Return to List of Compost Ingredients

rose prunings
Nitrogen. Compost in backyard "slow-compost bin". Remove thorns for safety. Shred first if possible.

Return to List of Compost Ingredients






S
salad dressing
Contains oil. Do not compost.

Return to List of Compost Ingredients

sawdust
Carbon (400-500:1). Acceptable if wood was not painted or treated with chemicals or glues. Compost only in thin layers. Use a LOT of nitrogen materials.

Return to List of Compost Ingredients

seaweed
Nitrogen (19:1). Compost in compost pile or use as mulch. Provides trace elements and is said to have 60 minerals. The fresher, the better. The longer it is uprooted the more salt it absorbs in the ocean. Try to pick it up right after a storm. Small leafy varieties break down faster than bigger ones like Bull Kelp, but I know of no varieties that can't be effectively composted. Keep moist.

Return to List of Compost Ingredients

sewage sludge
Do not compost at home. While this matter will compost, studies have shown that the compost resulting from sewage sludge may have high concentrations of metals which are toxic to humans. In addition, it may contain salts which are toxic to plants.

Commercially-made compost created from sewage sludge should be accompanied by analysis and/or test results to ensure its safety. When using these, be sure to ask for recommended application rates.

Return to List of Compost Ingredients

socks
To make Sock Monkeys and Sock Elephants, see the instructions at http://www.freeyellow.com/members5/lennytaylor/.

Return to List of Compost Ingredients

sod
Large amounts of sod should be sent to the municipal recycling center. However, it is possible to compost sod anaerobically. Stack the sod in layers with dirt side up, grass side down. Cover with black plastic so that there is no air or light reaching the sod. It may take a year or more to completely decompose. (This method will also kill weeds such as buttercup and quack grass, but not Morning Glory.)

Return to List of Compost Ingredients

sour cream
Do not compost. See Dairy Products

Return to List of Compost Ingredients

squash
Nitrogen. Compost in worm bin. See Food Wastes.

Return to List of Compost Ingredients

straw
Carbon (40 - 100:1, usually about 80:1). Compost in backyard compost pile.

Return to List of Compost Ingredients

string
Cotton string may be composted in a backyard pile if you have no other use for it. One reader writes "The string my pole beans climb on comes from the local horse barn, from the baled hay."

Return to List of Compost Ingredients

sugarcane wastes
Carbon (50:1). Compost in compost pile. Sugarcane fiber is 200:1 and may also be composted in the backyard pile. For more information, contact the Sugar Engineers' Library at http://www.sugartech.co.za

Return to List of Compost Ingredients






T
tea bags
Carbon (170:1). Compost with tea leaves in the worm bin. Can also go in piles.

Return to List of Compost Ingredients

tea leaves
Nitrogen. Compost in worm bin or compost pile.

Return to List of Compost Ingredients

tomatoes
Nitrogen. Compost in worm bin. See Food Wastes.

Return to List of Compost Ingredients

trees
If not diseased, see if you can find a way to chip or shred and use as mulch. It would take a long time to decompose in a pile, so even if you want to try to compost it, you would need to shred or mulch it first.

If diseased, don't compost. Send to municipal composting site. Large municipal or commercial composting sites usually reach much higher temperatures than home piles, and the heat will kill the disease. Check with your solid waste department for guidance.

Particularly, don't include parts of a tree that is infested with tent caterpillars. Eggs exist which will not be destroyed by composting and these will hatch next spring.

Return to List of Compost Ingredients

turnip leaves
Nitrogen. Compost in worm bin. See Food Wastes.

Return to List of Compost Ingredients

twigs
Carbon. Compost in backyard "slow-compost bin". Chop first if you want to speed up the decomposition process.

Return to List of Compost Ingredients




Next Page






TOP OF LIST / Return to Home Page  /   Return to Compost Site Contents



Home Page URL: http://www.mastercomposter.com
Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of all terms in our Terms of Use.
Copyright - © 1998-2008, Mary J. Tynes.