Backyard Composting Basics

Below are some of the greens and browns that make for a happy compost pile.

Kitchen Organics
Greens Browns
  • All spoiled vegetables and scraps
  • All spoiled fruit and scraps
  • Coffee grounds
  • Tea bags
  • Egg shells (crushed)
  • Rice
  • Pasta
  • Houseplant cuttings
  • Cut flowers
  • Coffee filters
  • Nut shells
  • Stale bread
  • Brown paper bags shredded
  • Paper towel
  • Napkins
Yard Organics
Greens Browns
  • Grass clippings (no more than a 4 inch layer at a time)
  • Weeds without a seed head
  • Spent flowers and vegetables
  • Hedge clippings
  • Leaves
  • Dried grass clippings
  • Dried weeds
  • Straw and hay
  • Small twigs or branches (mulched)
  • Pine needles in small quantities
Garbage
The following items are compostable but may draw unwanted pests to your backyard, so they are to be placed in the regular garbage.

  • Meat
  • Chicken
  • Fish
  • Bones
  • Shellfish
  • Dairy Products
  • Oils and fats
Compost is beneficial if mixed with garden soil and as a top dress on grass so it is important that the following materials be avoided:

  • Diseased or insect-infected plants
  • Pet wastes
  • Mature weeds with seeds

Composting Tips:

  • Cover the greens from your kitchen and garden with browns from the kitchen and garden.
  • Regularly use a pitchfork or other digging tool to mix in newly added green materials.
  • Turning the pile will add air into the pile. Air is needed by the micro-organism to break the pile down properly.
  • Always cover with a layer of browns.
  • By covering the food waste you will minimize fruit fly problems and the occurrence of other pests.
  • Keep the material in the composter about as damp as a wrung out sponge.
  • A composter that is too wet or dry may stop working.
  • The smaller the pieces of organic materials the quicker the materials will turn into compost.
  • By using both materials from the house and yard you should get the right mix of carbon and nitrogen.
  • By adding some finished compost or topsoil to the pile you will introduce organisms that help get the pile working.