- Author: Anne E Schellman
If you've ever felt confused by the process of composting, you are not alone! Most gardeners experience confusion at some point over the following topics:
What can I compost?
- Kitchen: fruit and vegetable scraps, tea bags, coffee grounds, and eggshells.
- Yard waste: grass clippings (except Bermudagrass), leaves, pine needles, and shredded wood chips.
- Rotted manures from non-meat-eating animals are allowed, but not necessary.
What shouldn't I compost?
- Avoid animal products (meat, bones, fish, grease, dairy).
- Ashes from the fireplace or BBQ (can cause pH imbalance in soil).
- Sawdust from treated wood.
- Dirt: this ends up making it heavy and too hard to turn.
- Avoid diseased plants.
- Most weeds.
What are “greens” and “browns” and why does it matter?
Greens are rich with nitrogen, and browns contain carbon. Don't get bogged down by reading about the ratios of how much of each to use. Bottom line? You need to add equal amounts of greens and browns. The easiest way to do this is by using two 5-gallon buckets.
Vegetable & fruit scraps, grass clippings, coffee grounds, and rotted manures.
Dry leaves, straw, sawdust, wood chips, corn stalks, cardboard, and paper.
Make sure all items added to the pile are chopped or shredded to at least 1 ½” in size. Otherwise they won't break down equally. The best size for a pile is 3x3 to 3x5.
For more information including what compost system to choose, which compost method to use, how often to turn your pile, pests, troubleshooting, and a general demystification of the composting process, watch our Composting Basics presentation! You can download the handout on our Classes and Workshops page. https://ucanr.edu/sites/stancountymg/Classes/