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The 92 Things We Compost in 2010

Our Compost Tumbler

Gardening season may be winding down, but composting season never ends. As a kitchen gardener, I’ve come to enjoy composting almost as much as I enjoy gardening. Making compost is a completely satisfying activity. Kitchen scraps and garden waste are magically transformed into compost that feeds our plants. The trips to the compost bin – even through snow—add up to nutrient rich compost.

When I was doing web research on composting resources a couple of years ago, I came across this great list: 163 Things You Can Compost. Marion Owen’s list includes some things have I haven’t composted (so far), and it also inspired me to make an exhaustive list of the things we have composed. Here’s our updated list for 2010:

Freezer-burned vegetables
Freezer-burned fruit
Wood chips
Popcorn (unpopped, “Old Maids” too)
Freezer-burned fish
Old spices
Pine needles
Matches (paper or wood)
Old, dried up and faded herbs
Spent grains from brewing beer
Spent yeast from brewing beer
Grass clippings
Potato peelings
Hair clippings from the barber
Stale bread
Coffee grounds
Wood ashes
Tea bags and grounds
Egg shells
Grapefruit rinds
Pea vines
Houseplant trimmings
Old pasta
Grape wastes
Garden soil
Powdered/ground phosphate rock
Corncobs (takes a long time to decompose)
Blood meal
Beet wastes
Tree bark
Flower petals
Pumpkin seeds
Expired flower arrangements
Bone meal
Citrus wastes
Stale potato chips
Rhubarb stems
Wheat bran
Nut shells
Cover crops
Fish scraps
Tea bags (black and herbal)
Apple cores
Electric razor trimmings
Kitchen wastes
Shrimp shells
Crab shells
Lobster shells
Pie crust
Onion skins
Watermelon rinds
Date pits
Olive pits
Peanut shells
Burned oatmeal
Bread crusts
Cooked rice
Banana peels
Wooden toothpicks
Stale breakfast cereal
Pencil shavings
Fruit salad
Tossed salad
Soggy Cheerios
Burned toast
Old or outdated seeds
Liquid from canned vegetables
Liquid from canned fruit
Old beer
Fish bones
Spoiled canned fruits and vegetables
Produce trimmings from grocery store

and here are some other items we compost that are not on that list:
• SunChips bags
• old ruined straw hat
• ash from hardwood charcoal (NOT from charcoal briquets!)
• leftover oatmeal
• sad old rice
• the lost items from the bottom of the fruit and vegetable drawers
• flour that’s gotten too old
• jack o’lanterns (and other pumpkin shells)
• spent sunflower heads (after Jim has saved the seeds for next year)
• avocado peel (we’ve had less luck with the seeds- too hard)

Marion Owen’s list also included several categories of things we don’t compost, the most prominent being paper products including napkins, Post-it notes, and theater tickets. We have always lived in places where curbside recycling collects paper; we’ve put our paper there, rather than composting it ourselves. The exception to that is newspapers, which we’ve used successfully several times to take down weed patches. To do that, we spread newspaper layers over the area, like behind a garage say, and then put a layer of yard waste like leaves and trimmings to hold the newspapers down. Over the course of a season or a winter, the weeds underneath are thoroughly smothered.

We have no pets, so we don’t compost pet hair or feathers. We don’t have a supply of manure either so again we don’t put that in our compost.

Marion Owen’s list also includes leather items, such as old gardening gloves and worn-out wallets. I haven’t tried composting leather yet, but there is an old worn-out leather wallet on my list of next summer’s science experiments.

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Continuing the Discussion

  1. Advice to a New Gardener: Compost is Key | Our Twenty Minute Kitchen Garden linked to this post on February 15, 2012

    […] waste– peels, cores, leftovers w/o sauces or oil, bread, rice, oatmeal. A rather exhaustive list of more than 92 items we compost can be found on the 20minutegarden […]

  2. Advice to a New Gardener: Compost is Key « linked to this post on February 16, 2012

    […] waste — peels, cores, leftovers without sauces or oil, bread, rice, oatmeal. A rather exhaustive list of more than 92 items we compost can be found on the 20minutegarden […]