Food Waste (Composting)

Composting

Composting is an easy way to reduce waste while improving your yard and garden soils.

Compost is a mixture of decaying organic matter, including food scraps, yard and garden trimmings, and manure; mature compost is also referred to as humus. Rich, dark humus replaces organic materials depleted from soil when growing flowers, vegetables, fruits or grass. It helps soil hold water, provides nutrients for healthier plants, and produces more vegetables from your garden.

Start the pile with a layer of coarse material such as corn stalks to build in air passages. Add alternating layers of “brown” and “green” materials with a shovelful of soil on top of each layer. Shredding leaves or running over them with a lawn mower will shorten the composting time.

Composting Items

What to Compost
Material
Carbon or
Nitrogen
Info
 table scraps
Nitrogen
 add with dry carbon items
 fruit & vegetable scraps
Nitrogen
 add with dry carbon items
 eggshells
neutral
 best when crushed
 leaves
Carbon
 leaves break down faster when shredded
 grass clippings
Nitrogen
 add in thin layers so they don’t mat into clumps
 garden plants
 use disease-free plants only
 lawn & garden weeds
Nitrogen
 only use weeds which have not gone to seed
 shrub prunings
Carbon
 woody prunings are slow to break down
 straw or hay
Carbon
 straw is best; hay (with seeds) is less ideal
 green comfrey leaves
Nitrogen
 excellent compost ‘activator’
 pine needles
Carbon
 acidic; use in moderate amounts
 flowers, cuttings
Nitrogen
 chop up any long woody stems
 seaweed and kelp
Nitrogen
 apply in thin layers; good source for trace minerals
 wood ash
Carbon
 only use ash from clean materials; sprinkle lightly
 chicken manure
Nitrogen
 excellent compost ‘activator’
 coffee grounds
Nitrogen
 filters may also be included
 tea leaves
Nitrogen
 loose or in bags
 newspaper
Carbon
 avoid using glossy paper and colored inks
 shredded paper
Carbon
 avoid using glossy paper and colored inks
 cardboard
Carbon
 shred material to avoid matting
 corn cobs, stalks
Carbon
 slow to decompose; best if chopped up
 dryer lint
Carbon
 best if from natural fibers
 sawdust pellets
Carbon
 high carbon levels; add in layers to avoid clumping
 wood chips / pellets
Carbon
 high carbon levels; use sparingly