Monday, April 2, 2012

Compost Materials List


    Why bother paying those high prices for compost from the store when you have all you need right in your house?  Not only will you do your garden good, but you will also put your garbage to good use.

    Green compost materials
    Much higher in nitrogen, helps speed up the process of decomposition

    -  Vegetable/fruit peelings and scraps
    -  Grass clippings
    -  Fresh manure from horses, alpacas, sheep or cows.  This "cooks" the compost quicker.  NOTE:  do not use manure from dogs, cats, humans or pigs.  It could contain harmful parasites.
    -  Coffee grounds
    -  Plant clippings
    -  Seaweed
    NOTE:  DO NOT use vegetables fried in vegetable oil

    Brown compost materials

    High in carbon and a source of energy for your compost microbes
       -  Chipped twigs
       -  Chipped hedge trimmings
       -  Stalks
       -  Leaves
       -  Eggshells
       -  Tea bags...loose or in the bag

       In small amounts
  • Shredded black/white newsprint
  • Shredded cardboard (avoid matting, aerate)
  • Small amounts of hair/fur/fiber (REALLY old Leaping Sheep Wool Dryer Balls)
  • Small amounts of sawdust
  • Very small amounts of wood ash

Put alternated layers of green (more) and brown (less) compost materials, spread evenly, in your compost bin or heap. Be sure to stir every week or two with a pitch fork and turn the edges into the middle. Add water to keep moist. Cover with a tarpaulin to avoid becoming waterlogged if you live in a rainy area. 

Not sure how to tell if you have a good balance?  If the leaves are dry or if you have ants in the compost it's too dry.  If the compost is consistently moist or if you see worms, GREAT!  Kids that like to hunt for worms can add their findings to the pile! 

To avoid the possibility of composted seeds growing or the introduction of pathogens to your garden let your compost heat up to 160 degrees F.  You can use a compost thermometer to keep track of the temperatures.  Manure plays an important role in heating up the compost if you're having trouble reaching temperature.  After about a week the compost pile will start to cool off from it's peak temperature.  When this happens it's time to turn the pile to get more air into it.  The compost is ready when it's dark brown in color, crumbly and earth-smelling.  This can take 4 months to 1 year.  For a good aged compost you're investing 5 years.   

Call your local horse or alpaca farm, I'm sure they would be more than happy to have you pick up manure from their pastures.  They may even deliver it to you. 

What a great source of worms for the family fishing enthusiast.

  • Chemically-treated wood products
  • Diseased plants (house, yard or garden)
  • Human wastes
  • Meat, bones and fatty food wastes
  • Pernicious weeds (sprout from root)
  • Pet/pig wastes (meat eating animals)
  • Junk/processed foods (you're not trying to grow a french fry)

Happy composting and here's to a pesticide free, rich and bountiful garden!

For complete instructions on composting visit

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