Did you know the average US household disposes of nearly 1.3 lbs of food waste every day? Composting is a great way to divert this organic waste from the landfill. And, composting helps to regenerate soil. If you are a gardener, you should definitely be composting to capture all the nutrients of that food waste to feed back into your soil.
There are many different methods of composting. You can build or buy a bin, a tumbler, bokashi buckets, or just start a heaping pile. In most cases, the key to great compost is to attract or add the right decomposing ‘agents” such as microorganisms or worms that can quickly transform your kitchen scraps into a pot of black gold.
What you put in your compost pile or bin determines whether or not you’ll create a healthy fertilizer in an appropriate amount of time? Instead of waiting a whole season or even a year, you could generate a healthy pile in as little as one or two months when you use the right ingredients.
If you read home composting groups on sites like FaceBook, there are lots of questions from people wondering what they are allowed to put into the bin. Some people wondered about moldy bread, wood ash or burnt coconut shells, and lemons. Others proclaim the value of pulp left after juicing, used coffee grinds, rotten foods, and meats or dairy.
Not everyone agrees, but many believe that meat and bones or acidic items can be tricky. Worms don’t like these things. Whether you do hot or cold process might impact your inputs. To a new composter, the information can seem confusing.
You can compost just about anything that is or was once living! But, you might choose not to add things like meat, bones, fats, and dairy because how you are composting might attract pets, rodents, raccoons, or other wild animals. An example of what I mean is, if you live in the jungle alongside wild cats, you might only compost if you have a fully contained bin.
What to Add to Your Compost Bin
For most composting methods, the best way to create a healthy bin is by maintaining the correct ratio of green to brown ingredients.
Our recommendation is to aim for a 50/50 or even a 60/40 mix of green and brown material. If you are going for the 60/40 mix, always make sure that there is more green than brown components. You’ll thank us later!
Brown Composting Components
The brown (or dry) components in a bin are low in nitrogen and help to maintain a sponge-like moisture level. These dry materials can be anything from…
- dry leaves,
- dried grass clippings,
- wood shavings,
- pine cones,
- hay, and
- pine needles
- coffee grounds and filters (this one actually is high in nitrogen, but it is definitely a great add to the bin),
- peanut shells,
- dryer lint, and
- cold wood ashes.
Many people also add..
- shredded newspaper,
- egg cartons,
- cereal boxes, and
- other paperboard items
to the pile. These paper items are best recycled if that is available in your area, from an environmental awareness standpoint.
Green Composting Components
The green elements are high in nitrogen. We encourage you to add the following wet materials to your pile:
- tea bags,
- tea leaves,
- fruit and veggie scraps,
- egg shells,
- wilted flower arrangements,
- plant trimmings, and
- fresh green grass clippings.
Most plate scrapings can also be added to the mixture. You might want to avoid adding large pieces of meat and bones, depending on your situation.
Maintaining the right ration of browns to greens is essential. This task is not always as easy as it sounds. The best way to accomplish this is to add the same amount of each type of material to your bin every time. And, to mix/turn occasionally, depending on your method. So for example, if you’re filling your bin with veggie scraps from the salad you just made, don’t forget to also include an equal portion of brown/dry leaves.
What Not to Add to Your Compost Bin
If you want a healthy fertilizer, and let’s be honest, who doesn’t, many people avoid including the following components to your bin:
Animal Waste. Unless you plan on using the hot method and or the mixture strictly for ornamental plants, do no add animal waste to your bin.
Infected Plants, Wet Grass, Seedling Weeds. These types of components are likely to cause certain plant and weed diseases to grow in your composing bin. Diseased components can also infect the plants that you trying to grow with your compost.
Regardless of the type of process that you are using, there are certain materials that should never be added to your compost bin.
Any Inorganic Materials. Since you are creating a natural fertilizer, you wouldn’t want to mess this organic process up by adding synthetic pesticides, cleaning materials, weed killers, or medicines, now would you? These types of inorganic materials have repeatedly shown to kill the microorganisms that help make the composing bin healthy.
Some Compostable Plates, Cups, and Utensils. As a general rule, paper based products are okay to compost. But the plant-based plastic party ware generally includes information on the label related to how it can be composted. Most require shredding of the material and higher temperatures of commercial processing. They are less likely to be broken down in a backyard compost.
And, some people avoid the following depending on their composting method of choice, location, or lifestyle.
Meat and Bones. In most cases, residential bins simply do not get hot enough to efficiently decompose meat and bones.
Dairy Products, Sauces, Oils, and Fats. These components may be okay in extremely small batches, but you wouldn’t want to pour a cup of pork grease or milk into the bin. These materials are also hard for the bin to sufficiently break down.
Share this handy infographic:
Composting is a great way to dispose of organic waste, diverting it out of landfills. Composting is an amazing soil amendment. And, composting can be a lot of fun. But, it can also be a lot of work. After much research and experimentation, we invented the radically innovative and patent-pending AeromatiCo. Our fully automatic compost bin is specifically designed to transform plant-based food waste into a nutrient rich liquid compost.
Our invention is for anyone who wants compost, but would not follow any of the traditional methods. It’s also a great way to use food waste as a replacement for chemical based fertilizers. We take all of the work out of composting, which helped us realize our composter is for virtually anyone who wants to dispose of their food waste in the most environmentally friendly way possible.
Be sure to check out our About Page.