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Friday, January 21, 2011


If you have read our blog for a while, you know that we are big fans of composting as it reduces waste, and gives added benefits to our gardens. The Mother Nature Network has an article that talks about the things you should never compost. Check out the article. I don't know that I agree with everything on the list but it's good to get someone else's view on what we shouldn't compost. Here is their list.
Bread products: This includes cakes, pasta and most baked goods. Put any of these items in your compost pile, and you've rolled out the welcome mat for unwanted pests.
Cooking oil: Smells like food to animal and insect visitors. It can also upset the compost's moisture balance.
Diseased plants: Trash them, instead. You don't want to transfer fungal or bacterial problems to whatever ends up growing in your finished compost.
Heavily coated or printed paper: This is a long list, including magazines, catalogs, printed cards and most printed or metallic wrapping paper. Foils don't break down, and you don't need a bunch of exotic printing chemicals in your compost.
Human or animal feces: Too much of a health risk. This includes kitty litter. Waste and bedding from non-carnivorous pets should be fine.
Meat products: This includes bones, blood, fish and animal fats. Another pest magnet.
Milk products: Refrain from composting milk, cheese, yogurt and cream. While they'll certainly degrade, they are attractive to pests.
Rice: Cooked rice is unusually fertile breeding ground for the kinds of bacteria that you don't want in your pile. Raw rice attracts varmints.
Sawdust: So tempting. But unless you know the wood it came from was untreated, stay away.
Stubborn garden plants: Dandelions, ivy and kudzu are examples of plants or weeds which will probably regard your compost heap as a great place to grow, rather than decompose.
Used personal products: Tampons, diapers and items soiled in human blood or fluids are a health risk.
Walnuts: These contain juglone, a natural aromatic compound toxic to some plants.

Some of these items make sense. I wasn't aware of the dangers of Walnuts for other plants. I don't agree with the philosophy of of making a broad statement that we should not compost bread just because it might attract pests. It might be more acceptable to use bread if your compost pile is away from the home like ours is.

If you do compost, what do you think of these no no's. If you don't compost, start looking in to whether or not it is feasible for you.



Homesteading and Gardening said...

We compost as much as we can, but not in anything fancy just piled up way back behind the garden. (There's not a lot of it, just enough for the chickens to have fun in lol)

I agree with the rice, but I do wonder how many people think it's okay trying to compost tampons or diapers? That part actually made me laugh until I realized there's someone, somewhere out there that really does that. Yuck.

Anyway, so they say that chicken or rabbit waste would be okay? Good.. because I put a bunch of those suckers (the rabbit mostly) right in with the garden soil and watch those plants grow even greener!

Going to have to tell mom about the walnuts though, thanks for the info!

jacki said...

I don't know that it makes a difference, but black walnuts are not the same thing as the typical walnut that you would eat. They're a completely different nut!

David said...

My compost pile comes from my yard and is composed of only grass and leaves in the fall. I pile it up during the summer and let it do whatever it's going to do without any attention. The following spring even though it's really not through with becoming compost I bury it in my garden beds about 6 to 8 inches down. A good 8 inches of previous years compost that I just dug up remains on top for planting. It's a little bit of work but it goes fast for each raised bed.

Have a great compost day.

Andrea @ That'll Do Farm said...

Compost is my life! We have such rotten, clay soil that if we didn't add compost the only thing we could grow would be clay pottery! I do compost fish -- it's on their don't list -- but I bury it deep in the pile. I also let the chickens out in the garden at the end of the season so their waste is naturally decomposing through the winter right in the beds. But during the growing season, their coop litter is added to the compost pile.

I go out and talk to school groups about composting and composting with worms as part of the master gardener program. It's amazing to watch the kids' faces transform as they learn about composting -- at first they are disgusted and then you can see the light go on and they "get it." And the next generation of composters is born!

Rachel said...

We don't use a compost pile to create compost. We throw everything from meat to dairy to produce to our chickens and goats and let them deal with it. That includes rice and bread (both are more likely to get completely eaten than wasted though). It also means that livestock waste gets mixed in making it all that much better.

The Apple Pie Gal said...

Great post! I was just reading in one of my gardening books last night about this too!

I have black walnut trees and they certainly do not allow growth in or around them. So you are very right indeed!

The bread was a new one however! Once we have our chickens, they'll just eat it instead so all is well that ends well then!

Kim said...

I have been dabbling in composting for years and have had some of that beautiful black compost to add to my gardens. I have already decided to seriously start composting as much as I can (once I can see my compost bin under all the snow!). I have an indoor ceramic crock so I don't have to make a run to the pile for every little thing.

Thanks for the list of do nots!!

Veggie PAK said...

I am thrilled with the availability of compostable materials that are available in our neighborhoods. I live in a city unfortunately, but I have transformed my back yard into a mini-farm, with over 1,500 square feet of organic cultivated soil. Starbucks is a great source of coffee grounds for composting. It amazes me that people don't take advantage of that.

I admit that I have a composting area that is different than most, because I follow my own thoughts on composting and the bin system. My "hot bin" is 3 feet deep, 4 feet high and 9 feet long. That's larger than most, but I really want the compost for my garden. It helps the soil tremendously!

I tracked my compost incoming weights for a few months last year, and between January 1st and April 10th, I had composted 2,047 pounds of coffee grounds from Starbucks, along with dozens of bags of leaves as well as almost that many bags of grass clippings besides my own. What beautiful compost that all made! When I have a sufficient supply of "greens", I turn the pile every three days. In fifteen days, you have useable compost. I prefer to go a few more days, just to assure that it is indeed ready for use.

It's fun, and great exercise!

Unknown said...

Atiekay, both are such great ideas. Thanks for sharing. You gave me a great idea! A neighbor of ours has a pizza place just a mile away, I'm going to talk to them about possibly getting leftovers for our future pigs.

Unknown said...

You guys all have such great ideas and suggestions. I love it!

Angie said...

I know this is an old post, but I read you considered asking a pizza place about leftovers for pigs. A good friend of mine raises pig and gets all of the unsellable produce from our local grocery store. They put it in their own 55 gallon trash cans and all they ask is that she rinse them and bring them back within 24 hours. Just thought I would offer this suggestion! Have a great day! I LOVE your blog!