Making compost is equal parts art and science.
While many people focus on the optimal carbon to nitrogen ratio, some of these people aren’t considering the various nutrients that could be missing from the final product if a lack of variety is used to make the compost. Yes, the macronutrients are important for your compost health, but so are the micronutrients that come from using a large variety of composting ingredients!
So, here are 39 items you can compost at home.
A large percentage of what you can compost comes from food. Here are the best of the best to throw in your compost pile!
1. Fruit And Vegetable Waste
Fruits and vegetables produce plenty of biomass that doesn’t get eaten. Banana peels, apple bores, vegetable stems, etc are great additions to compost.
2. Expired Produce
We’ve all bought/grown too much produce and let it go bad. Throw it in the pile!
Just like produce goes bad sometimes before we get to it, leftovers are sometimes so abundant that they end up going bad. Throw them in the compost pile and ensure they are covered well if they contain meat, dairy, or fats.
4. Egg Shells
Rinse them and crush them for a good amount of calcium added to the compost.
5. Cooked Bones
If you can grind cook bones down to powder you have bone meal, a great addition to compost and soil.
Read above for how to compost meat products.
7. Spoiled Dairy
Most people think composting dairy isn’t possible because of the pests it may bring. All it requires is a deep cover so no smell escapes.
8. Tea And Coffee
Tea leaves and coffee grounds are great for compost. So are the tea bags and compost filters if they are made from compostable materials!
9. Stale Bread
Unless you have livestock that would relish some stale bread, add it to the pile for a good boost in a variety of micronutrients.
10. Expired Grains
Remember that tub of oats you bought 5 years ago at the back of the pantry? Toss it in and recycle those nutrients!
Aside from food waste, manure is the best way to get a ton of nutrients into your compost pile. You just need to ensure you handle it safely and age it long enough to dispose of pathogens.
11. Horse Manure
Horse manure is awesome but it tends to be seedy. Hot composting is recommended.
12. Cattle Manure
This is the black gold that most composters are after! Mix it with some straw and you are good to go.
13. Pig Manure
Pig manure isn’t recommended by most composters because of the chance of pathogens. Time and heat are your friends here.
14. Rabbit Manure
You don’t have to compost rabbit droppings, but it doesn’t hurt if you don’t have an immediate use for them!
15. Sheep Manure
Another herbivore that produces high-quality composting material.
16. Chicken Manure
Chicken manure is very high in nitrogen so it will need ample amounts of carbon material to balance.
17. Goat Manure
Goats are browsers and eat different things than sheep and cattle, meaning the manure is rich in unique nutrients as well!
18. Fish Manure
Fish manure is awesome for the garden but can be messy to deal with. Pet fish will enjoy a tank cleaning while you throw the wastewater in the compost pile for moisture and nutrients!
This is taboo but completely doable. Aging human manure and keeping it off consumable plants is your best bet. Use it around ornamentals instead.
Compost From The Outdoors
You can produce a lot of biomass on the homestead from your day-to-day activities. Here are some of the best compost ingredients you’ll find outside.
20. Lawn Clippings
Empty the mower bag straight on the pile.
Weeds are rich in nutrients even though we don’t want them around. Don’t waste the biomass.
22. Tree Trimmings
Chipping tree trimmings gives you wood chips for plenty of carbon in your pile.
23. Exhausted Garden Plants
When you clear the garden, put all of those plants in your compost pile. Talk about a large amount of biomass!
24. Fall Leaves
Leaves are abundant in the fall, so pick them up and recycle those nutrients.
25. Pest Infested Produce
Hot composting only!
26. Disease Infested Produce
Hot composting only!
27. Slaughter Waste
Blood and viscera compost wonderfully if you can keep pests away. It has to be buried deeply.
These are things that don’t really fit in the other categories but still provide great fuel for the composting process. Try them out and see the results!
28. Junk Mail
Shred it and throw it in as long as it isn’t glossy.
Same process as junk mail.
All those online orders come with compost ingredients!
Fingernail and toenail clippings.
We all get hair cuts, so put those hair clippings in the compost!
Use greywater-friendly soaps if you want to use this to wet down dry piles.
34. Egg Cartons
Obviously, I don’t mean the Styrofoam ones. Stick with the paperboard.
35. Paper Towels
Shred them up and throw them in when you need more carbon.
36. Nut Shells
Walnuts, almonds, pistachios, and peanuts all have beneficial shells you can utilize.
37. Cotton Waste
Old clothes, rags, q-tips, and cotton balls apply!
38. Dryer Lint
As long as you are only drying natural materials (cotton, linen, hemp, etc), the lint is compostable.
39. Pet Fur
Just like you can compost your hair clippings, you can compost all that pet fur from grooming.
Ready To Make Some Compost?
You don’t have to use all 39 of these composting ingredients. Ensuring you get the right C:N ratio would be quite difficult with this array of ingredients
While you could always cold compost all of these ingredients and ignore C:N ratios, you could use what ingredients you have the most of and calculate your C:N ratio to create high-quality compost quickly and efficiently!
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I noticed that cat manure is not listed.
I know, I know…. a lot of people are going to say, “Oh, no! You’ll get toxoplasmosis!”
No, you won’t. First, you stand a better chance of getting toxo from eating rare meat, especially rare bear meat.
Second, you’re already using cat manure – uncomposted – because the neighborhood cats are already using that nice, soft dirt of your garden to make their deposits. No matter how nice the cats, they are not going to bypass your garden just because it’s growing your veg.
If you have a cat, simply use compostable cat litter (corn cob or newspaper based). Toss into the compost pile/bin/whatever container you use. Cover with some greens (as opposed to the green/brown combo you just put in there).
Et voila. More good stuff for the manure pile.