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March 23, 2018  |  Login
Beneficial and Unbeneficial Materials for Your Compost Pile
By Ann Whitman and The National Gardening Association

Good Additions for Great Compost

What you put in the compost pile is up to you — just remember that it needs to be from an organic material. Here’s a short list of possibilities:

  • Fruit and vegetable peels, stalks, and foliage
  • Eggshells (crush them before adding)
  • Coffee grounds and tea leaves
  • Other klitchen scraps such as old bread, old vegetables, or fruit pulp from a juicer
  • Flowers,
  • Grass clippings and trimmings from trees and shrubs
  • Sawdust
  • Wood chips
  • Weeds
  • Shredded black and white newspaper
  • Shredded Leaves (whole leaves tend to mat down and block air)
  • Hay
  • Straw
  • Pine needles (use sparingly; they break down slowly)
  • Animal manure, except for dog, cat, pig, or human

Poison for Compost Piles

Some items don’t belong in your compost pile. Hot compost piles can kill off many diseases, weed seeds, and insects, but it’s not a sure thing; some of these unpleasant guests may survive to invade your garden again. Certain materials can also invite unwanted wildlife to the pile or spread human diseases.

Avoid adding the following to your compost bin:

  • Kitchen scraps like meats, oils, fish, dairy products, and bones. They attract unwanted animals, such as rats and raccoons, to the pile.
  • Weeds that have gone to seed or that spread by their roots, such as quackgrass.
  • Diseased or insect-infested vegetable or flower plants.
  • Herbicide-treated grass clippings or weeds.
  • Dog, cat, or pig feces.


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