What can I compost?
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 types of ingredient. 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).
An example of some of the ingredients you can add to your compost bin:
'Greens' (nitrogen-rich ingredients)
- Grass cuttings
- Young weeds
- Nettles (not roots)
- Comfrey leaves
- Urine (ideally diluted 20:1)
- Uncooked fruit and vegetable peelings
- Tea bags (Many teabags contain small quantities of plastic. Ideally empty bags first and use only the leaves on the compost.) Tea leaves and coffee grounds
- Soft green prunings
- Animal manure from herbivores eg cows and horses
- Poultry manure
'Browns' (carbon-rich ingredients)
- Cardboard eg cereal packets, toilet roll tubes and egg boxes
- Waste paper and junk mail, including shredded confidential waste
- Paper towels & bags
- Bedding (hay, straw, shredded paper, wood shavings) from vegetarian pets eg rabbits and guinea pigs
- Tough hedge clippings
- Woody prunings
- Old bedding plants
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