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What NOT to Compost

There are so many items that can be composted that you’d think compost bins all over would be bulging with stuff-turning-to-rich-organic-soil. (And they most certainly could!) Even so, there are a few items that we’d strongly recommend the home-composter to steer clear of trying to compost.

Dog and cat wastes. Compost piles or compost containers do not get up to high enough temperatures to destroy the bacterial organisms in dog or cat feces. Don’t try to compost these.

Meat, bones and fats. Some people do put these in their composts; I wouldn’t. They break down through different processes than vegetative bits. The result can be very bad smelling compost that attracts the kind of vermin (both big and small, if you follow me) that I don’t want anywhere near my yard.

Treated lumber or the sawdust of treated lumber. Bad chemical overload in your compost.

Charcoal briquette ash. Although they are made with sawdust, charcoal briquettes also contain binding agents and paraffin or petroleum solvents and other stuff you don’t want in your compost.

Human waste. Composting toilets do exist; a compost pile is not one.

Diseased plants. If a plant did poorly in your garden, exhibiting signs of wilt for example, you won’t want to add that plant to your compost and risk carrying over the problem to next year’s garden. There’s a chance that the heat produced by composting will kill the diseases but then again, why take the chance?

These are the things you’ll want to dispose of in ways other than composting.

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