Materials to make compost
The right materials
Many organic and natural materials can be composted but it is important to get the right balance. The micro-organisms need an even mix of ‘brown’ and ‘green’ matter to munch on, so aim for 50% of each to get the best compost. If the mix is not right, it could take a very long time to compost and may not produce a very pleasant end result.
‘Green’ Organic Matter
Fresh, wet and sappy matter that is quick to rot and provides important nitrogen and moisture e.g. annual weeds, bindweeds, grass mowings, hedge clippings, house plants, cut flowers, carrot tops, fruit peelings, vegetable peelings, coffee grounds, tea leaves and teabags.
‘Brown’ Organic Matter
Older, drier and brittle matter that is slower to rot. It’s high in carbon, acts as fibre and allows air pockets to form e.g. autumn leaves, Christmas trees, straw, cardboard, cotton towels, egg boxes, egg shells, paper bags, paper towels, vacuum cleaner contents and wool.
Anything that was once living will compost, but there are some materials that are best avoided and should NOT be put in:
Bones, cooked food, meat and fish scraps, dairy products - these attract unwanted visitors such as rats or foxes who may try to dig them out and will also cause unpleasant smells.
Diseased plants - these may spread disease back into your garden when you use the compost.
- Try to avoid letting one material dominate your heap, especially grass clippings or autumn leaves.
- In order to separate materials that can be composted, keep a container in your kitchen e.g. a caddy or empty plastic container.
- Try to shred larger items so that they decompose more easily.
- Scrunched up bits of cardboard are great for creating air pockets.