May 192010

Believe it or not, there are a lot of people out there who want to compost but don’t know what exactly they’re allowed to put into their batches. Some even think that since it’s their pile of compost, they’re at liberty to put in just about anything they want. While it is a free country, you won’t be guaranteed a successful batch every time. This is why there are rules and guidelines to composting that you should follow.

I’m sure you’ve all heard before that adding food scraps to your compost is a good thing. Albeit this is true, you really want to avoid the meaty stuff like meat, bones, and grease because they don’t decompose properly, not to mention they smell bad. In addition, adding meat to your compost is like having an open invitation for rodents and other wildlife to feast in your backyard’s compost bin. Dairy products, oils and grease are also on the banned products list for the same reasons.

Adding manure to your compost pile can be a good thing, but adding human, cat or dog manure is a bad thing! First of all, that’s disgusting; think of the diseases, parasites and who knows what else lies in the dark depths of that kind of waste! If it’s not good for it to stick around in your or your pet’s body, then chances are it’s not good for your garden and compost. When thinking about adding manure to your compost batch, you want to stick with the kind that comes from grass eaters like cows, llamas, chickens and sheep. Try not to think about it with your nose in the air; manure is very high in nitrogen and can heat up your compost since it’s considered an activator, kind of like coffee grounds or powdered meals.

Wood ashes, barbeque charcoals and limes are another set of items you should avoid. Reason being is they contain way too much alkaline and that’s bad for your batch’s pH level. Plus some plants wouldn’t take too well to the high amounts of alkaline, so instead of helping your plants and garden have a sustainable life you would just be harming them.

Other items that should be blacklisted from the compost pile also include seedy weeds, anything contaminated or pesticide infested, large batches of wet and soggy matter, large branches and wood, and glass, metal and plastic (these should go in the recycle bins). Keep in mind that as long as you avoid these blacklisted materials, you’ll be sure to obtain the black gold soil you desire through the composting process.

*Referenced from Home Composting Made Easy by C. Forrest McDowell, PhD and Tricia Clark-McDowell, 2002.

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Author: Vicki Duong
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Provided by: Guest blogger

Vicki Duong

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