What to Compost and What not to Compost…That is the Question

Hopefully, over the past several days, you have been able to work on building/attaining your compost containers.  If not, I highly recommend that you do as soon as possible. The process of breaking down garden and kitchen waste by heat, microbes and other soil-dwelling creatures takes T…I…M…E!  It is my humble opinion that every organic garden should have at least one compost pile due to the improvement it affords the soil in its broken-down state and the fact that it is a sustainable approach to soil enrichment.

Alrighty then…you have your compost container/heap…what do you put in it???  Here are the yays and the nays based on one of my resources, Organic Gardening (Christine & Michael Lavelle):

Good Compost Materials:

  • Animal Manure (not pet waste)
  • Fallen leaves
  • Grass/lawn clippings
  • Hay and straw from organic farms
  • Kitchen waste
  • Prunings from the garden
  • Sawdust
  • Shredded browns
  • Soot and charcoal
  • Spent hops or cocoa shells
  • Spent mushroom compost
  • Weeds and other garden wastes

What not to compost:

  • Chemically treated wood products
  • Diseased plants
  • Human or pet waste
  • Meat, bones and fatty food wastes
  • Pernicious weeds

There are basically two kinds of composting; the “cold pile” method and the “hot pile” method.  I have shown you one of each as any good teacher would do :), (see previous post, Composting).  The black compost barrel would be considered a “hot pile” method of composting because it is covered and conserves heat.  The materials in the barrel normally break down rather quickly due to the heat generated inside by being black and enclosed.  The outside bin on the corner of our lot is an example of the “cold pile” method and can take up to a year to reach compost status.  Both are fun and equally satisfying methods of home-produced compost.

As you travel on this gardening/composting journey you will hear/learn all kinds of terminology and your gardening knowledge will blossom and grow.  It is really quite simple and the benefits are….well…..delicious!!!!  Until next time…

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