What You Shouldn’t Compost

by woodlandpowerproducts
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As we’ve previously discussed on this blog, composting is one of the most beneficial things you can do for both the environment and your yard. It not only reduces your carbon footprint and landfill waste, but it’s also the easiest and most economical way of creating nutrient-rich soil your plants will love.

But reaping the benefits of composting isn’t quite as easy as throwing anything and everything in. It takes a little bit of forethought and planning to ensure that your pile is working as efficiently as possible and that it doesn’t get contaminated. Let’s have a look at a few common items you should steer away from your treasured compost bin.

  1. Meats, Dairy, and Eggs. These are a no-go for two main reasons. First, compared to much of the other organic matter found in compost (leaves, sticks, grass, etc.) these take quite a while to break down. Second, during the process of breaking down, they give off an awful smell that can attract the likes of unwanted pests and rodents, which can taint your compost.
    1. One exception to this rule is eggshells, which add an awesome boost of calcium to compost. Because eggshells take a bit to break down, it’s worth crunching them up finely (with your hands, a blender, or a coffee grinder) before adding them to your pile.
  • Salts and oils. Adding salts or oils can be detrimental to compost as they tend to disrupt the natural balance of nutrients and organisms. Even things such as cooked vegetables seasoned with olive oil and/or salt can adversely affect the efficiency of your compost.
  • Fruits and Vegetables with Pits or a Large Number of Seeds. This one is a little tricky. Sure, these things can be composted, but whether or not you should will ultimately depend on what you plan to use your compost for. Fruits and vegetables high in seeds (like tomatoes and cantaloupe) can create growing competition in your garden. In other words, it’s possible for them to sprout and hoard nutrients from the plants you were intending to grow.
  • Plants Sprayed with Pesticides. Adding plants that have been treated with chemicals—like insecticides and herbicides—is effectively like poisoning your compost pile. While the plant matter will eventually decompose in the compost, the pesticides won’t—and these pesticides can make their way into your garden (which can be especially problematic if used in a vegetable garden).
  • Pet Waste. The general logic here is that manure is great for soil, so pet waste should be too, right? Ehh, not so fast. Pet waste—particularly dog and cat waste—can carry bacteria and parasites that can be harmful to both soil and humans.

For as versatile and forgiving as compost piles are, they do have some basic requirements to stay healthy and productive. By steering clear of the aforementioned things, you’ll be sure to create a compost pile that will enhance the nutrient makeup of your soil and garden.

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