Monday, July 21, 2008

12 Compost Tips

We are dedicated to composting here at Aunt Debbi's Garden. Everything that can be composted is composted. We even compost some things that we are warned against, such as cooking oil. After a discussion with a cousin-in-law about her stinky compost pile, I came up with a list of suggestions to have a great compost pile to make that wonderful garden black gold.

1. Ask friends and family who do not compost to save their food scraps for you. They can be stored in the freezer until you are able to pick them up. This keeps them from rotting and has the added benefit of breaking down vegetable cell walls, which speeds up the decomposing process.
2. Place your compost pile where you can share it with a neighbor. We have ours on the back fence and the neighbors are welcome to toss things into it.
3. If you are the analytical type and would like to do the math here is your link
4. If you are the more laid back creative type and believe in just "letting compost happen" here is your link.
5. Keep the pile damp. A dry compost pile breaks down slooooww.
6. Consider making a compost screen. Mine is made of 1x3 inch ply wood made into a frame with 1/4 inch screen stapled to it. The screened compost is awesome.
7. Add some red wriggler worms and let them make you compost extra rich and wonderful.
8. Shredded paper can be added to compost. It is also great bedding for a worm bin.
9. If you have a lot of food scraps and very little brown material, simply add a little soil to cover the food scraps. This helps eliminate any possible stink.
10. Used screened compost as a soil amendment and to enrich potting soil.
11. Use rough compost as a nutritious mulch.
12. There will be bugs. Do not be afraid of the bugs. They are there to help make you compost.
13. Remember little boys love to tear stuff up. Let them turn your compost for you. They are good at it.
14. Make compost tea. Add a few cups of compost to a bucket of water. Let it sit and use it to water you plants. They will thank you.

Here is a short list of possible compost ingredients

1. grass clippings.
2. Leaves
3. Vegetable and fruit food scraps.
4. Egg shells
5. Coffee grounds.
6. Tea bags.
7. Shredded paper
8. Paper plates
9. Weeds
10. Dead container plants
11. Any plant material cleaned up from the landscape that is not diseased.
12. Wood chips.
13. Manure. We add rabbit poo, which is the very best poo.
14. Old or spoiled vegetable animal feed such as hay, alfalfa, and rabbit pellets.
15. What every you muck out of a horses stall or barn.

What do you compost?


  1. I compost everything you listed except maybe the rabbit poo, because I don't have access to that. :) Great post.

  2. I compost just about everything. It all rots. Funny story at PPS meeting, a man says all his neighbors give him their dead animals and he buries them in the orchard. Best orchard around! He wanted to know if they were good to compost. Audience was in shock but I can ASSURE everyone, they all died natural deaths.

    On a lighter note (I hope), went to Starbucks today and picked up 15 bags of used coffee grounds. They are free for the taking at all Starbucks and most likely all coffee shops. Great for composting. Have a splendido day-hot here-I almost feel like it could be Texas-though I have never been.

  3. Good post, Deb. Compost is great stuff.

  4. I add the contents of my vacuum cleaner (mostly dog hair!) to the compost - and human hair clippings, too.

  5. I add my cat's hairballs, cotton fabric scraps, and napkins too as well as everything but horse and/or rabbits stuff. I don't have access to those type of things either. Yes Cheesehead's hair and emptied out vacuum cleaner bags are some of my favorites too.

  6. Again, my comments have taken on a life of their own. Hair balls and animal corpses. YEWWWW.

    I do love the bulk coffee and fabric ideas. As a quilter, I have all those little bitty bits of thread that could go in.

    I have heard about the hair, but never tried it myself. Never too late to start.

  7. Just linked over from Double Danger and I love these tips...will definitely be bookmarking this page!

  8. Hi there mamas losin it. I bookmarked your site too. I should have left a comment.

  9. Hi Aunt Debbie,

    I love your idea about patio composting. How many weeks does it take and how do you know when the compost is ready?

  10. I compost dryer lint, definately the coffee grounds, and one of my favorites are the packing peanuts made of cellulose. They just melt when you run water on them, very fun! (They are made from biodegradeable plant cellulose, and more companies are using them than ever.) I like to use cardboard under mulch as well-keeps the weeds WAY down, but you need holes to let water through. Unless you want bare ground-I did this to make a path to the electric meter and it's been weed-free for 3 years!

  11. Hi Lisa,

    What does cellulose look like?

  12. The peanuts are off-white, and melt when you get water on them. They look a lot like regular packing peanuts.