To create a proper compost, you have to keep the elements balanced. Composting requires a balance between green and brown materials. Green materials, such as grass clippings, are rich in nitrogen, and brown materials, such as dried leaves, have plenty of carbon.
Aside from balanced materials, composting requires objects that can be broken down in a specific amount of time. Whenever you go to spread the finished compost over your garden beds, you don’t want to find pieces of decomposing food or large branches still whole.
On top of that, we have to worry about adding diseases or introducing pests to our compost. If you add something that is diseased with bacteria or fungi, it could spread through your compost bin. Then, when you spread the finished compost over your garden beds, you could infect the whole area!
Plus, you don’t want to encourage raccoons, flies, insects, or other pests to visit your compost. It’s one of the reasons why some neighbors become frustrated with compost near their property. Some ingredients encourage unwanted visitors, like rats and mice, to the neighborhood.
That’s why knowing what not to compost is vital. Without this knowledge, you could ruin your entire finished compost or, even worse, infect and kill next year’s worth of crops.
What Not to Compost
1. Dog and Cat Poop
Some manure is safe to add to your compost, providing additional nutrients that help your plants grow. Examples of safe manure include horse, cow, chicken, and rabbit poop. These droppings are full of organic matter that enriches your soil.
Poop from dogs and cats isn’t the same. You should avoid any feces from carnivorous animals. The waste often contains microorganisms and parasites that can infect the crops you’ll eventually eat.
If you do want to compost dog poop, you have to process it separately from your typical compost pile. You can even purchase special composters just for pet waste. Then, you can use this finished compost on non-food crops.
2. Citrus Peels
I know; you’re probably thinking, “aren’t all fruit and veggie scraps are safe for my home compost pile?” The answer to that is citrus peels are sketchy additions.
Citrus peels have natural chemicals and an acidity level that kills worms and other microorganisms. At the same time, the chemicals might slow down the decomposition process.
Another problem is that citrus peels take forever to decompose. Think about how long several cups of citrus peels would take to break down in your compost pile!
Adding these items occasionally to your pile isn’t a huge deal, but you don’t want to do it all the time. Also, if you practice vermicomposting, citrus peels are a big no-no. They hurt your worms!
3. Tea Bags & Coffee Filters
Coffee grounds and tea leaves go in the heck yes column of safe ingredients for composting. These items have high levels of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous, which are all critical for plant growth.
While those items are safe, coffee filters and tea bags are not good additions to your pile. The bags and filters usually contain synthetic fibers that don’t break down in your compost pile as quickly as other ingredients. That means you’re introducing chemicals into your soil that might not be safe.
Ideally, should remove the leaves and grounds before tossing them into your bin. The only way that it’s safe for you to compost tea bags or coffee filters is if you are sure they’re made from natural materials, such as cotton or hemp.