Have you thought about creating a compost pile? Compost is made of decomposed organic matter that serves as an excellent source of nutrition to your plants and flowers, and is made from scraps of stuff you discard around the house. Not only is composting good for your garden, it’s also great for the environment–you are contributing to life’s natural birth and death cycle while also keeping a lot of material out of the landfill.
Future posts will go into the nuts and bolts of composting (and wormeries), but you may be wondering what kind of material you should collect for your compost pile. One thing to keep in mind is that you need “greens” and “browns” for a successful pile. That is, you need generous amounts of soft green leafy things and tougher brownish woody things.
Here is a list of twenty things you should set aside for your pile:
1) Animal manure. We’re talking about manure from large animals like horses and cows, if you live on a farm. Pet feces are not included here.
2) Cardboard (soft). You can cut up softer cardboard, such as those that come in rolls, and use that in your pile. I’d avoid hard cardboard as it’s probably tougher to break down.
3) Coffee grounds and filters. Just toss out both grounds and filters onto your pile or holding area when you’re done with your morning coffee.
4) Cotton rags. Tear up 100% cotton rags into small strips or squares and add those to your pile.
6) Fireplace ashes. These are just the remains of burnt wood, so they are rich in organic matter.
7) Fruits and vegetables. Try cutting them up into smaller pieces so they decompose more quickly, but either way they’re a great addition to your pile. Be careful with these if you have an open pile on the ground, since they may attract rodents unless your pile is adequately protected.
8) Grass clippings.
9) Hay and straw.
10) Leaves. Don’t throw away (or worse, burn) your autumn leaves (or leaves from any other time of year). Add them to the pile.
11) Lint. Lint is basically little bits of cotton, and can decompose just fine in your pile.
12) Newspaper (shredded). This is just another kind of paper, and definitely requires shredding into smaller sizes so that your compost pile can handle it.
13) Nut and seed shells. From sunflower seed to peanut shells, anything that comes from a seed or nut can go right back to the earth.
14) Paper. Just about any kind of clean paper can be composted, although I’d personally avoid anything glossy. Tear up larger paper into smaller bits for quicker decomposition.
15) Plants. Have old houseplants or garden plants you no longer want? No problem–just toss them in the bin and turn them into food for other plants.
16) Sawdust. This is just powdered wood and makes a good “brown” material that can easily decompose.
17) Tea bags. These ground up leaves in little cotton bags are great for composting.
18) Wood chips. This is wood in yet another form, and it’s just as good.
19) Wool rags. Again, cut these down into small strips.
20) Yard trimmings. Just about anything from your yard I’ve not yet mentioned is good for your pile, from tree branches to old flowers.