What to Use on the Compost Heap

Find out what you can and should add to a compost heap and what you should leave out in order to reap the most benefits.

  • compost-bin
    Raw veggies, grass and garden clippings are a great place to start with a compost bin.
    Photo by GettyImages/annalovisa
  • compost-bin
    In this compost bin, the wood should be store separately as it takes longer to break down.
    Photo by GettyImages/curtoicurto
  • organic-gardening
    “Organic Gardening Techniques” by Nick Hamilton, is filled with expert gardening tips to help gardeners of all skill levels.
    Courtesy of Companion House Books

  • compost-bin
  • compost-bin
  • organic-gardening

Organic Gardening Techniques (Companion House Books, 2018) by Nick Hamilton, offers gardeners insight for planting and growing various fruits, vegetable and herbs. Find your gardening niche with help from Hamilton and see how your gardens can blossom. This excerpt can be located in Chapter 5, “Produce Storage and Off-Season Maintenance.”

What to Use on the Compost Heap

There are many materials that can be used in an organic compost heap. Some are fairly obvious; others are not.

Garden Waste and Old Cut Flowers

All leaves, dead flowers, and the like that you remove or that fall naturally from vegetables, fruits, and plants—even diseased and pest-infected material—can be composted. The heat generated in most compost heaps, and certainly in enclosed heaps, has been found to be high enough to kill most diseases, spores, pests, and eggs. It is important to shred this type of garden waste first because it usually contains high levels of lignin that bacteria find hard to break down and thus will be slower to rot.

Grass Clippings

Most gardeners generate a good supply of grass clippings throughout the growing season, so it is a good thing that the clippings serve as an excellent activator for the soil heap. Put thin layers onto the heap regularly; layers that are too thick will cause anaerobic bacteria to work, creating a smelly and slimy mess that rots slowly. You can compost flowers, leaves, and other waste from your garden.

Raw Kitchen Vegetable Scraps

After lawn clippings, raw vegetable scraps are probably the most popular materials for the compost bin.

Rhubarb Leaves

The leaves of this plant are poisonous, so eat the stems and put the leaves onto the compost heap. Although the leaves are poisonous to us, they are perfectly safe to compost.



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