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Ask a Grower

Ask-a-Grower #83

What waste products can I put into my compost?

Basically anything natural or made from something natural can be composted. For a more in depth look at composting and how to build a compost pile see the article written by the team at San Diego Hydroponics labeled How to build and maintain a Compost Pile.

Here’s a short list of common waste products that can be composted.

Most paper products can be composted however it is our opinion that you would want to avoid products that have been bleached. It is possible for the bleaching agent to leave behind a residue that will have negative effects on the microbes that are essentially “eating” what you throw in. We recommend that you recycle these products instead.

You can use all sorts of kitchen and food scraps however you want to avoid food scraps that contain fried oil. Some good stuff from the kitchen would be freezer-burned fruit and vegetables, old or out of date fruits and vegetables, potato peelings, carrot peelings, broccoli and cauliflower stems, stale bread, coffee grounds, tea bags and grounds, egg shells, old pasta, citrus rinds, corncobs (they take a long time to decompose), onion skins, pumpkin seeds, apple cores, stale potato chips, moldy cheese, crab and lobster shells, uneaten oatmeal, watermelon rinds, olive pits, date pits, peanut shells, tofu, stale cereal, old salad, ….and you can even use the liquid from your canned fruits and vegetables to water your compost when available.

All of your landscaping debris is able to be composted and many are highly beneficial. For example adding hay or straw will help keep the compost pile from becoming too compact. Other good landscaping debris could be leaves, lawn trimmings, flower petals, sawdust, wood ashes, tree bark, used soil, weeds, even your dead plants can be composted.

From around the house you can throw in shredded newspaper, hair, house plant trimmings, finger and toe nail clippings, lint from the dryer, and even old flower arrangements.

You can and should use manure in your compost piles but we at San Diego Hydroponics DO NOT suggest using any manure in the tumbler style composters. Manure from ruminant animals is best due to the way their four stomach process breaks down their food. See our How to Build and Maintain a Compost Pile article for an in depth look into this subject.