Anything that was once living will compost, but some items are best avoided. Meat, dairy and cooked food can attract vermin and should not be home-composted.
Some things, like grass mowings and soft young weeds, rot quickly. They work as 'activators', getting the composting started, but on their own will decay to a smelly mess.
Older and tougher plant material is slower to rot but gives body to the finished compost - and usually makes up the bulk of a compost heap. Woody items decay very slowly; they are best chopped or shredded first, where appropriate.
For best results, use a mixture of ingredients. The right balance is something you learn by experience, but a rough guide is to use equal amounts by volume of greens and browns (see below).
Items you can add to your compost bin
Other compostable items
- Wood ash, in moderation
- Hair, nail clippings
- Egg shells
- Natural fibres, e.g. wool and cotton
Do NOT compost
- Meat, fish, dairy products or cooked food
- Coal & coke ash
- Cat litter
- Dog faeces
- Disposable nappies