I'd like to start composting my eggshells and coffee grounds, and I'm wondering what other things are compostable. And what things are not?
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Your city or county should have appropriate educational materials about composting and may also offer free classes.
Here is a basic composting brochure from Santa Clara County, California:
with more information here:
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Any veggie scraps, weeds, grass clippings, leaves etc. Just no meats or meat fats. My mom has two huge compost cages on her property and can even compost vegetables with olive oil on them, but her piles have been going for years and years...as in probably over forty years.
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any scraps or discarded vegetables or fruit, seeds, grains. Just no meat or fats - no dairy.
Our municipality has a green bin program that can handle cooked food, meat and bones, and turns pretty much all food waste (except for non-solidified oils and clam shells) into compost. However, when we used to do back yard composting, I did not add cooked grains or baked goods to our compost because they would attract rodents and other unwanted pests. This is a pretty good list of what not to put in your compost: http://www.organicauthority.com/sanctuary/11-items-you-shouldnt-compost.html
I put all vegetable and fruit bits (although it has suffered recently since I started saving and freezing veg ends for soup stock), tea bags, coffee grounds and filters, eggs, paper egg cartons, and the occasional paper type things to make up the brown quotient. Makes great compost. I am considering getting some red worms to speed the process up a bit, although the bottom of my compost does have some worms who make it home. I can also suggest that you can keep the egg shells (microwaved if they are raw) out of the compost and put them near where your birds might be - they love the eggshells, especially at nesting time, it is an excellent source of calcium for them especially when they have young.
Pretty much anything, but a lot depends on the scale of things. If you have a lot of garden materials, particularly if you grind them up regularly, you can run a pretty active pile which will easily absorb seafoods including fish bones and crab shells and the like, eggshells, dairy products etc. Meats and large bones should be avoided unless you have a consistently hot pile-probably not in your case, they're usually left out of home piles. Large concentrations of salt should be avoided, although city compost projects seem to worry about this less than they used to. Also, unless your pile is running hot enough to sterilize, which home piles usually don't consistently, best to avoid weeds and any sort of diseased plant material.
On the other hand, if (more likely) you are just composting a few kitchen scraps, it's best to be pretty cautious- small vegetable parings, coffee grounds (crushed)egg shells and the like. Cooked materials mostly compost quite quickly, but once again, be cautious of salt. Paper materials are mostly OK- coffee filters and the like are good. I run a pretty large operation for a home gardener, and I add shredded papers (I'm told the recyclers don't like these because of short fibers)- celophane will compost.
I ran a successful red wriggler composting worm farm in my kitchen for years! I fed them absolutely everything (EVERYTHING that my kitchen produced and I eat everything) and just took out the bones when I changed the bed every few months. It didn't attract any bugs and the worm compost made my plants gorgeous.
I tried it again in another city/region and they all died.
Just to say that I recommend trying a worm farm to anyone so inclined.
Depends on what you are using the compost for and how soon. Egg shells take a long time to break down, and coffee grounds are wonderful and also take time. Need to be mixed with green stuff. Many things, including paper, are compostable. And what is the intended result? Gardens, long term?
I line my compost bin with newspaper or brown paper or unbleached lightweight paper (used by some stores to wrap fragile items). Plant materials, coffee grounds and tea bags, used parchment paper (I reuse about 3 times, so when it crumbles it's ready for compost). Shrimp shells, fish skin and bones, egg shells, wooden Popsicle sticks and skewers, real wine corks, wilted flowers.
Caveat, though--hubby observed that the stickers supermarkets place on produce last forever. Put those in regular trash.
Forgot to mention that during dry weather, I collect the water from washing vegetables and cooking pasta and use that to moisten the compost. I keep a big bucket in the kitchen to hold the water until I can run out to the compost bin.
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Here's a nice article from Mother Earth News re: composting. http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/compost-myths-zbcz1311.aspx
Thanks, everyone! I'm composting for our small vegetable garden. Wish me luck!
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I use only coffee grounds and egg shells on my vegetables for fertilizer and they love it. I thought of composting, but we have a lot of wild life that comes out at night, coyotes, raccoon, possum, and they get into everything! They even try to turn on the garden hose and when they can't, they bite the hose! One time they tried to steal the cushion on the lounge chair. When they couldn't get it off, they pulled the whole chair halfway across the yard until it got stuck! So, eggshells and coffee grounds keep them at bay and everything gets put in the garage at night.
Sounds like you have some particularly wild wildlife. I have pretty much the same crowd- skunks, possums and racoons will tear up a pile, but I've had good success keeping them out with a weighted tarp. There are a lot of commercially available compost containers that will do the job; the best I've used is the "biostack", a three part box (with a solid bottom to keep out moles etc) that makes turning the compost relatively easy- these are frequently sold cheaply by local organizations. Unfortunately, all of the bins that I've tried ventilate too much for California- it's near impossible to keep the outsides of the pile damp. They should work very well in locations with summer rainfall.