Composting Ingredients

Composting Ingredients

This fuller listing of ingredients for your compost pile is more comprehensive than the primary list in the previous Compost Snacks post. However, it is still not wholly definitive.

It all comes down to carbons and nitrogens. Once you start to look upon your compost heap as a living, breathing entity and not so much a pile of dirty dirt, you will begin to appreciate the actual value of your stack.

The microbes in the compost pile are split into two main camps, Bacteria Camp and Fungi Camp, which work cohesively together. Still, they concentrate very specifically on the two areas. The Bacteria Camp comprises 80-90% of your compost and consumes and eats the nitrogens. At the same time, the Fungi Camp swallows the carbons and makes up the remaining %. The fungi camp also contains yeasts and moulds.

Below is a more comprehensive listing of ingredients you can safely add to your compost pile. Many composters have strict rules regarding what can and cannot go into their specific compost heaps.

Some will not allow meats and bones, fish and dairy products and so on, but these ingredients can be added, and indeed, l have added them in the past myself when managing a ‘hot composting system’ instead of a ‘cold compost pile’. My compost heaps have been managed under a ‘no rules system ‘ [which l shall discuss in time] as opposed to more conventional methods.

Everything breaks down – if a forest has a fallen dead bear, fox, cat or dog which is not buried, does this mean it will not decompose? No, it will rot down. It will also be ravaged by vermin, insects, flies, and so on – BUT it will rot and decompose into the ground where the very same microbes will feast on it. Falling leaves from the trees above will cover them, and they too will eventually rot down, and new life will sprout from the spots of the fallen because of the enriched soil fertility.

The differences come down to management – a cold compost heap with very few turnings will rot down slower and can become problematic. Some products are more likely to attract vermin and scavengers. In contrast, a hot compost heap with frequent turnings will build up an incredible temperature and speed up the decomposition process through heat and burn-off.

It will all come down to

The compost method adopted
The size of the heap itself
The location of the heap
The compost style being used
The frequency of turnings/turn overs of the content
Whether end product is sieved/unsieved
The composter’s/gardener’s outlook

One of the reasons there are so many rules, conventions or traditions if you wish is that non-composters or new composters can be enthused, encouraged and or motivated to start composting. I get that. We all start somewhere, and we need guidelines to follow.

Sometimes the guidelines come across as too demanding or too expectant from those who wish to throw all their organic wastes into one pile and see what happens.

However, these topics will be discussed in more detail in other posts. For the time being – the list below is comprehensive, not definitive as said but not far off or out either.

Unwaxed Cardboard/Cardboard Egg Boxes Scrunched up or in small pieces – better damp to wet.Newspaper Shredded, in strips, scrunched up.Kitchen Paper Towelling Only that which has been used on non chemical clean ups.
Flat beers/winesOld spices Both dried and fresh varietiesPet bedding – Think Herbivores Hamsters, Gerbils, Rabbits, Guinea Pigs …
Old jams Just empty contents into the pile – not the glass!Dry Pet Food KibblesWood Ash Not Coal Ash
Hair and Nail Clippings Yours or your petsSawdust, wood chips Untreated by chemicalsEggshellsGround to dust, crushed, broken or just leave them in as two halves.
Grass Clippings Add thinly and not as one great heap.FruitsAll fruit* *Citrus Fruit – skins and pith, juicings and fermented can be composted but ensure it is distributed eveningly and shredded or cut up.
Tea Leaves/Coffee Grounds Make sure tea bags and or coffee filters are made from natural materials.VegetablesAdd in whole, sliced, diced, torn, shredded, blended, chopped, fermented, reduced to pulp or slurry.Crumbs and dust particles from kitchen work tops. Hoovered hair.
Paper BagsShredded, strips, torn upCooked Pasta/RicesSoiled breads, yeasts, crackers, old aotmeals
Seaweed and kelpsBlood driedHuman Urine
Old Bills/Bank Statements/Non Glossy Flyers and Junk Mail ShreddeEnvelopes [minus the windows if present] ShreddedSticky Notes/Non – Glossy Business Cards Shredded
Weeds* Hot composting kills seeds/Take off roots and chopLeaves Green/Brown/Old/Wind SweptAnimal Manures – Think Herbivores Chicken, Horse, Cattle, Goat – best well rotted.

Fresh is too strong and burns.
Old vegetable plants With brassicas – break down stalksDead houseplants /flowers/Dried Floral Arrangements/Natural unscented potpourriToilet rolls or inner cardboard rolls.

Cut/Tear into smaller pieces
Natural Festivity WreathsChicken Manure Pellets/Worm Casts/Volcanic Rock DustOld rotted hays/straws
Feathers from birds Mushrooms/FungisFruit Tree Twigs/Branches Best results shredded
Burlap Sack Material Break into very small piecesOld Hemp Ropes/TwinesPine Needles Slow to break down/shredding helps – they have a pH of 3.2 and this makes gardeners wary, but small amounts distributed through various piles will not damage overall soil results.
Used MatchsticksBee PoopHops Small amounts NOT huge piles
Bird droppings from caged/captive healthy birdsRaw Fish* Compost will eat this, but this will attract animals – so break into small pieces, blend and distribute across heap, cover with compost and not just leave on top.Leather scraps Tear/cut/shred into smaller pieces.
MolassesSugar Beet Waste/Pulp Break into small pieces.Old aquarium natural plants
Vegetable peelingsFish MealLimestone fragments
Lobster/Crab ShellApple Cores/ApplesHerbal Tea leaves/bags
Corn on the cob Break into smaller degradable piecesBlood MealJellies [Gelatins]
Garden soils From previous seasons containersSnails/SlugsOld compost Recycle older compost
Old tobacco [not filters]Moss/AlgaeLints from washing machines and tumble dryers.
Rabbit/Guinea Pigs droppingsAlfalfa/Comfrey/Clover/NettlesGrapefruit/Oranges/Lemons Break down and do not add in huge quantities
Sugar Cane Waste [Bagasse]Onions/Garlic/LeekSoya Milk/Beans
Rotting natural woods and barkDead StarfishOld/Soiled Yoghurts
Soiled Cheeses Within moderation as additionsSawdust/Shavings from untreated woodsClover/Comfrey
Pine Cones – break/crushDead rats/mice – animal carcass [non-chemical death]Ingredient Diversity

Soil Science Directory

I hope you have enjoyed this article, thanks for reading and I’ll see you next time. Till then, have yourselves a terrific day!

The Autistic Composter

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Published by The Autistic Composter

Earthly Comforts is a wildlife journaling scrapbook focusing on the countryside, wildlife biodiversity and environmental conservation, flora and fauna volunteering projects, gardening, composting and vermiculture, inspiration, poetry and photography.

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