Starting a compost pile is easy, but that doesn’t mean that it is done without a few questions. A common question is what to put in a compost bin, and an even more important question is what not to put in garden compost. Below we will discuss what to put in a compost bin (or keep out) and why.
What to Put in a Compost Bin
At a very basic level, what to compost is as simple as anything made from organic material, but not all organic material is safe for most home compost piles. Without a doubt, the following materials are safe for your compost pile:
- Grass clippings
- Tree leaves
- Vegetable food scraps (coffee grounds, lettuce, potato peels, banana peels, avocado skins, etc.)
- Black and white newspaper
- Printer paper
- Most disease free yard waste
- Vegetarian animal manure (e.g. cows, horses, rabbits, hamsters, etc.)
- Wood shavings or sawdust
Some items need a little more consideration before you decide if you should compost them or not. These are:
- Diseased yard waste – If plants in your yard become diseased and die, do not place them in the compost pile. A common example is if your tomatoes develop blight or get a virus. Composting items like this will not kill the disease and will make it so they can be spread to other plants. It is best to burn or throw away diseased yard waste.
- Meat, fat (including butter and oil), dairy and bones – Pure meat, fat and bones can not only carry the risk for disease, it also is very attractive to a wide variety of undesirable animals. Even in a securely locked compost bin, these items are enticing enough that an animal may try to damage your compost bin to get at them. This, combined with the risk of disease, means that it is just best to throw these items in the trash rather than use them in your compost.