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What NOT to Add to Compost

Don’t add these ingredients to your compost pile:

Meat, Fish, animal fats – Unless you can completely bury them, you run the risk of attracting unwanted visitors to your compost. You might be able to add very small portions (remember the Native Americans used fish to fertilize their corn), but they must be completely buried, and adding them makes turning or mixing the working compost very problematic.

Shredded Newspapers or Office Paper – Recycle them instead. The paper very likely contains chemicals that are not good for your compost. Newspaper shredders were very popular years ago, but the risk of adding ink chemicals isn’t worth it. By all means, recycle your paper and save trees, but don’t put them in your compost pile.

Ashes from Your BBQ Grill – Another no-no. Wood ashes can be very useful in small quantities. And, wood ashes can be helpful for certain lawn applications. But, never put charcoal grill ashes into your compost pile.

Dog and Cat Feces – Are never good for your compost. There’s simply too much risk of adding nasty diseases, not to mention the unpleasant odor! Chicken, horse, cow, and rabbit manure is fine…in moderation. If you have access to these very high nitrogen sources, compost them. They’re too “hot” for most direct applications to the garden. But, remember your brown to green ratio of 4-to-1. And, chicken manure is green, in composting terms… even though it’s brown in appearance.

Be Careful When Adding These Ingredients!

Sawdust – Because of it’s very high carbon content, and its very small particle size, sawdust can overwhelm a compost pile. But, it can also be quite useful if you have an overload of green material. I add some from my woodworking shop when I have a lot of extra fruit in my pile at the end of the season. Avoid using sawdust that came from Black Walnut wood, as it contains a chemical that will stunt or prevent the growth of some plants, tomatoes in particular.

Wood Shavings, Chips, and Bark – Like sawdust, the carbon content can overwhelm, and shut down, an otherwise good compost mix. Set them aside, if possible, and let them decompose the old fashioned way, over time (“cold” decomposition).