What to Compost
Aerobic Composting - What to compost
What to compost may seem difficult at first, but once you get the hang of it it's quite simple. The 1st thing you need to remember is that some items are considered 'green' (high in Nitrogen) and some items are considered 'brown' (high in Carbon).
Your carbon / nitrogen ratio should be 30:1
Following is a breakdown of your common greens and browns.
fresh garden waste
Brown leaves (fall)
Life is nitrogen and carbon based. The nitrogen provides the basic building blocks for the micro organisms in your pile. The more nitrogen, the more decomposers you have in your pile. If the nitrogen in your pile is too high, your pile will release amonia and will smell bad.
The carbon is the food source. If your carbon is too high, it will not decompose, or will decompose very slowly.
It may seem at first like you need to use a lot of paper and leaves mixed in with your grass clippings and food scraps to achieve the 30:1 carbon/N2 ration. However review the following:
Carbon/N2 ration in common items:
Newspaper is about 400-800:1
Paper is about 170:1
Cardboard is about 500:1
Now, your food scraps and grass clippings are only about 20:1
In our pile we have a lot of food scraps and grass clippings. We add some shredded newsprint and other papers as we build to ensure there is an adequate carbon source.
If your pile isn't heating up, add more 'green'. Cut your grass and mix in the clippings for example. Urine also is an excellent source of nitrogen, don't be too shy to pee on your pile when mixing to get it heating up. You can also seed your pile by using some healthy soil found on your property.
If your pile smells bad, you are using too much green based materials. Add in some carbon sources. Newspaper or straw for example.
Do NOT use:
Be careful not to use too much citrus type peel in your compost, it will make it acidic and some plants will not like that at all. Oak leaves and pine needles are also highly acidic.
inorganics (glass, plastics etc.)
meat/bones (will attract unwanted animals)
Dairy products (attracts animals)
wood ash (highly alkaline)
treated plants or clippings
poisonous plants such as rhubarb leaves
*Also, be sure to only use paper that has natural based inks. Newspaper is a good example. My rule of thumb is to only use plain or news print. Never use any shiny paper such as magazines. Also do not use photocopied paper/flyers.
Hope this helps. If you decide to try it out or are having problems let me know. Would love to hear what other people are doing.