Making Compost

In the past home composting was undertaken by gardeners to reduce waste, which would otherwise have been burnt on a bonfire, and to supplement manure as a means of increasing soil fertility and  organic material in the soil.  In recent years householders with smaller or no gardens have joined the craft for environmental reasons and  to reduce the vast amount of waste sent to landfill often with the encouragement for their local authority.

Much of the advice published is directed towards the later group with emphasis being placed on composting kitchen waste such as uncooked fruit and vegetable peelings and scraps, tea bags, coffee grounds and old cut flowers. 

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 It is also assumed that most gardeners, including those with larger gardens or allotments, do not have the time or inclination to operate traditional hot composting systems and have adopted cool or cold methods of composting even when they use traditional wooden compost bins or pallet heaps.  The emphasis is on composting garden waste such  grass cuttings, annual plants and weeds (before they have set seed) and soft prunings.

 However if you are interested in composting sooner or later you will come across variations on the statement that “everything that has lived can be composted” followed by a list of things that have lived that should not be composted.  This list might include:  

  • diseased plants
  • perennial weeds e.g. bindweed
  • annual weeds that are in seed
  • meat and fish
  • dairy
  • cooked food
  • coal ash
  • cat and dog faeces

 Such lists of items that cannot be composted should  be qualified with the statement that they should not be composted unless an appropriate technique or the correct equipment is used. The traditional compost heap or pile is still used by many allotment gardeners and those with larger gardens and has the advantage of being able to grow to meet the  demands placed upon as compostable material becomes available. However it is more likely to attract rats than a contained bin.

 

 For instance  meat, non-liquid dairy and cooked food can attract vermin and should not be home-composted for this reason using a compost heap or a “conventional” compost bin, such as is provided at a subsidised rate by under local council schemes unless you are happy to provide a home or feeding station to the local rat population.

They can however be composted in an enclosed vermin proof domestic systems such as the Hotbin,  Green Johanna or larger composters such as those made by  Jorra, Ridan or Rocket specifically design to deal with food waste including waste from schools and commercial organisations such as  cafes, restaurants, colleges etc.

There are now a number of wormeries specifically marketed to convert dog faeces into compost that can be used on flower gardens provided the dogs are mature, regularly treated for parasites and not pregnant.

Details of the items that can and cannot be composted are given below and in that list I have attempted to distinguish between those items that can be composted by cold composting methods using a conventional bin and enclosed hot composting systems.

 

 

What Can I Compost?

 This list has been compiled from a number of sources but the initial suggestion and a list of  items was kindly provided by the makers of the Hotbin composter who share my passion for promoting the home composting of waste food. Further information  on composting different material can be found in “Everything you want to know about how to compost everything” by Sarah Cowell 

 However any mistakes are mine. Please feel free to contact me with corrections of additions. The Comment section is limited to 160 characters. If you want to go over that limit please email me at:  carryoncomposting1@gmail.com

 Alfalfa Pellets or Hay

Alfalfa pellets, such as rabbit and gerbil food can be hot or cold composted but mix well to avoid them matting when wet.

Algae

Algae can be composted in a heap, cool or hot bin. It is a "Green" and a source of trace elements

Animal Products

See under food waste it is recommended that these are only composted in a specially designed enclosed container.

 Apples

A "Green". Crush or chop before composting (bruised apples compost more quickly). Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting.  Suitable for wormeries but do not add large amounts to a wormery or indeed a compost bin. Larger numbers of windfall apples can be trench composted or a special apple and worm heap can be made. 

 Aquatic weeds and pond plants

"Greens" These can be messy and are best composted in a bin rather than heap.

Ashes

Wood ash can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting but do so in moderation adding only thin layers of ash.Wood ash will increase soil alkalinity  and should only be used on acid soils which need additional potassium to acheive balance (Rodale). Small quantities of Coal ash mixed with wood ash may be composted but significant amounts of coal ash on its own should not be composted as it contains high levels of sulphur. Ash from lump wood charcoal can be composted using   cold (cool) or hot composting but that from BBQ briquettes may have been chemically treated best not to compost.

Ash Dieback Leaves

 The leaves from trees with Ash dieback may be composted on site however burning on site is considered the prefered option. Although householders may also use  burial in the ground. The forestry Comission indicate that there is no clear scientific evidence currently available on the effect of composting on Chalara spores. The temperature increase during the composting process and the presence of decomposition fungi, which will decompose leaf material, rendering it unsuitable to sustain Chalara, might lead to its destruction. However, given the uncertainty, it is advised that  any resulting compost is spread on or near the infected source  Any leaves which are not destroyed or otherwise processed (e.g. through composting) should not be used for mulching or use on allotments where there is a likelihood of spreading the infection. 
 
 Avocado

Fruit and stones. Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting.  Suitable for wormeries

 Banana

 A "Green". Both the  fruit and peel can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting. Suitable for wormeries. They are  best sliced, cut into quarters or squashed. Might attract rodents to an open heap or pile.

 Bamboo

Fresh bamboo leaves and stalks are a "Green" but if dry they become a "Brown". Older tough stems should be split or shredded.

  Bark

A "Brown" very slow to compost. A useful buking agent and addition to compost bins containing a lot of greens.

Bat Guano

I have found a reference to bat faeces being a composted in both piles and heaps. Bat Guano is sold commercially as a fertilizer. Bat droppings in the UK are dry and crumble away to dust.

In Britain all bat species and their roosts are legally protected, by both domestic and international legislation. It is an offence to deliberately capture, injure or kill a bat, intentionally or recklessly disturb a bat in its roost or deliberately disturb a group of bats, damage or destroy a bat roosting place (even if bats are not occupying the roost at the time), possess or advertise/sell/exchange a bat (dead or alive) or any part of a bat or intentionally or recklessly obstruct access to a bat roost.

 Beer and Brewery waste

A "Green" Spent beer can be used as a compost activator being high in nitrogen.

  Biscuits

Can be hot composted.  Not suitable for cold composting.

Black Walnut

The roots of this tree produce a toxin, juglone. For details go to the pages on  Toxic Invasive Plant and Wood & Woodchip

 

Birdseed

Mixed seed:   The general advice when cold composting is not to add plants when they are in seed as the seeds will germinate either in the bin or, more importantly when the compost is spread on the garden.  The same applies to birdseed if cold composted while  some of the seeds may decompose during composting others will survive the cold composting process.   Cold (passive) composting is therefore not recommended for most birdseed although some  manufacturers sell treated (baked) birdseed that will not germinate.   Waste from untreated mixed birdseed can be hot compostied, subject to the correct temperature being reached and held. 

Peanuts (sold for bird food): It is not unusual for some of the nuts in a “peanut feeder” particularly those at the bottom of the feeder to become stale and occasionally mouldy, these can be composted.

Sunflower seeds: The hulls of Sunflower seed hulls are allelopathic, and may inhibit the growth of some plants, if they are left on the garden. However, compost will degrade any toxins and even if it did not a small amount such as might be generated from waste bird will not affect the compost.  It is advisable to leave the compost to mature at the end of the active composting stage rather than use it before maturation. . If cold composting seeds might start to germinate but these can be removed from the compost by hand or turned when aerating the bin. If a tumbler or similar bin is, being used turn should mix the contents. Sunflower Hearts, while being more expensive, result in less waste. 

Blood meal and dried blood

 A "Green".  Can be hot composted, or buried by other material in a sealed bin if other methods are used it may attract flies and rodents. 

 Bokashi Digestate

Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting as well as buried in the garden.

 BBQ ash from lump wood charcoal

Can be composted using   cold (cool) or hot composting

 BBQ ash from briquettes

May have been chemically treated best not to compost

Bird nests

Old abandoned birds nests can be composted but I would leave them family in the tree or shrub for at least a year in case they can be used to rehome another bird.

 Biodegradable bags

 Not suitable for composting (See page on Compostable bags Compostable Bags )

 Bones

Hot compost but first boil the bones to make soup or stock. It is best to chop the larger bones before composting.  Also suitable for a Green Cone food digester. Not suitable for cool composting as they may attract vermin

 Bone Meal

Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting

 Bracken

A "Green" Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting. Compost containing bracken is recommended for acid-loving plants. Not suitable for wormeries.  Bracken  and other ferns is best compost young and should be cut into short lengths or shredded.  The olded stems are woody and are slow to compost they may need a second trip through the bin. Cutting and composting bracken from the same land over a number of years should eventually clear the ground. More information on the page Composting Bracken

 Bread

Can be hot composted.  Not suitable for cold composting unless using  a "food compost" system.

 Brassicas e.g. cabbage, broccoli

Leaves are a "Green".  Can be composted using   cold (cool) or hot composting.  Chop the stalks into smaller pieces. Less than 4mm is recommended.  Suitable for wormeries in “kitchen waste” quantities.

 Cakes

As for bread.  Can be hot composted.  Not suitable for cold composting.

 Car Oil

Used car oil cannot be composted

 Cardboard, cereal packets, kitchen/toilet roll tubes.

"A Brown" Can be composted using  cold (cool) or hot composting Iit is best torn up and   “Crumpled” to provide air pockets    Suitable for wormeries. Idealy it should be soaked before addition to the worm bin. Can also be used in Grassboarding .

Carrots

A "Green". Carrots  can be used in a wide range of compost bins and cut into pieces in wormeries.

 Cat food

Can be hot composed.  Not suitable for cold composting as it might attract vermin

 Cat litter

Most cat litter cannot be composted although some labelled as “compostable” can be hot composted. As there is a disease risk I would advise against composting cat litter contaminated with faeces. If such waste is to be composted I would suggest that it is only composted where the composting temperatures are being monitored, the cat is regularly wormed and the compost is only used on flower gardens to which young children do not have access.

 Cat poo

As there is a disease risk from pathogenic bacteria and parasites e.g. Toxoplasmosis I would advise against composting cat faeces. If such waste is to be composted I would suggest that it is only composted where the composting temperatures are being monitored, the cat is regularly wormed and the compost is only used on flower gardens to which young children do not have access.

Celery

A "Green". Suitable for all types of composting including wormeries

 Cereals, Oats etc

Can be hot composted.  Not suitable for cold composting.

 Cheese

See Solid Diary products.  Can be hot composted.  Not suitable for cold composting as it may attract vermin.

 Chicken bones

Hot compost but first boil the bones to make soup or stock. It is best to chop the larger bones before composting.  Also suitable for a Green Cone food digester. Not suitable for cool composting as they may attract vermin

 Chicken manure/bedding

Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting. As there is a disease risk from pathogenic bacteria with all manures hot composting where the composting temperatures are being monitored would be the safer option.

 Chips

Can be hot composted.  Not suitable for cold composting.

 Christmas tree

Shredded. Can be composted using   cold (cool) or hot composting but it is slow. Probably best to send it to for composting by the Council.

 Citrus e.g. oranges, limes, lemons

Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting.

 Clothes, cotton and wool

Old clothes made of wool or cotton can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting if cut into small pieces. These can also be recycled.

 Clover

A "Green" Can be composted using  cold (cool) or hot composting but probably best dug in as a green manure.

 Cockle and mussel shells

Can be hot composted.  Not suitable for cold composting or composting in open hot systems if there are any remains of meat on them as they may attract vermin.

Crush before composting, these can be very slow to compost. The shells could be baked in an oven to make crushing easier.

 Coal and coal ashes

Cannot be composted

 Coffee grounds

A "Green" Excellent for both hot and cold composting as well as for wormeries and leafmould.   Provides a good winter boost. Contains about 1.5% nitrogen

 Coffee filter papers

 A "Brown" Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting  and provides food for the worms. 

Coir

Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting but slow to compost 

 Comfrey

Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting.  Comfrey tea acts as an accelerator being rich in potash and nitrogen (Liquid Feed ) Not recommended for wormeries.

 Compostable bags

These compost best in an “industrial” system.   May take several months to compost in a hot system and a year or two when cold composting.   Cut or shred if possible. There are reports of the contents of these bags going "anaerobic" before the bag decomposes. More information on the page Compostable Bags

 Cooked food 

Can be composted in an enclosed hot composting system e.g. Hotbin, Green Johanna  Jora or Ridan.  Not suitable for composting in non-enclosed hot systems or cold composting systems as it will attract rats and other vermin. More information on the pages  Composting Food and Bokashi bins

 Cooking oil

Can be composted in an enclosed hot composting system but only in small quantities.  Not suitable for cool composting systems.

 Corn Stalks

A "Brown". Can be composted, best split cut or shredded

 Corn on the cob

A " Brpwn" Can be composted using  cold (cool) or hot composting.  Should be chopped up or shredded otherwise the cobs will compost slowly and may need returning to the composter a second time. Suitable for wormeries

 Corrugated cardboard

Can be composted using   cold (cool) or hot composting.  Shred or “Crumple” to provide air pockets. Suitable for wormeries (wet first).

 Couch grass

Can be hot composted.   Will survive cool composting.  Grass can be drowned by soaking in a bucket of water prior to composting.

 Corks

Natural Corks from wine bottles can be composted but will not compost within a "reasonable" time scale so may need putting through the bin twice. "Plastics" corks cannot be composted.

Cotton Clothing

Old cotton clothing, and other natural fibres,  cut into pieces can be composted

 Cow Manure

Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting. As there is a disease risk from pathogenic bacteria with all manures hot composting where the composting temperatures are being monitored would be the safer option. However cow manure has been used on gardens since ancient times and the potential risks should not be exaggerated.

 Crab and lobster shells

Can be hot composted.  Not suitable for cold composting or composting in open hot systems if there are any remains of meat on them as they may attract vermin.

Crush before composting, these can be very slow to compost. The shells could be baked in an oven to make crushing easier.

 Curry (leftovers)

Can be hot composted in a closed vessel.  While they can be composted in a hot heap or pile it may smell and attract fles and rodents so is not recommended. Mix any liquid with rice or other absorbent. Not suitable for cold composting.

 Dairy products 1. Solid dairy products e.g. Butter cheese etc 

Can be hot composted.  Not suitable for cold composting.

 Dairy products 2. Liquid dairy products e.g. milk yogurt 

Although these could be composted in enclosed hot composting systems it is usually not recommended to compost liquids as they tend to make the compost to wet for effective aerobic composting. They will also cool a hot composting bin.

 Dandelions

Can be hot composted.   Will survive cool composting.  Can be drowned by soaking in a bucket of water prior to composting but probably best sent to Council compost site.

 Diseased plants

Can be hot composted.  Many diseases can survive cold composting. It might be safer to send diseased plants to the council compost site.

 Dog food

Can be hot composted.  Not suitable for cold composting as it might attract vermin

 Dog Hair

Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting

 Dog poo

As there is a disease risk from pathogenic bacteria and parasites e.g. Salmonella and the roundworm Toxocaria canis I would advise against cool composting dog faeces. If such waste is to be composted hot composting where the composting temperatures are being monitored, with the dog being regularly wormed and the compost only used on flower gardens to which young children do not have access would be the safer option. It is possible to use dedicated wormeries but as with cool composting this will not kill any pathogens. (Separate guidance is provided on another page Dog & Cat Poo

 Egg Cartons (paper)

A "Brown"  Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting.  Tear or shred Suitable for wormeries.

 Egg Shells

Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting. The shells are best crushed prior to composting. Some recommend washing the shells prior to composting as it is said that the remains of the egg may attract rats. Recognisable shells may pass through the composting process. These may be returned to the bin or left in the compost and used on the garden.  Suitable for wormeries

 Envelopes

Paper envelopes can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting. Remove acetate windows first.

Evergreen Leaves

A "Brown".  Slow to compost so best treated separately in their own "everygreen" leafmould plastic sack or bag. Small quantires can be added to the bin if shredded and acompanied by plenty of "Greens"

 Fats (solid)

Can be hot composted in small quantities without causing problems.  Not suitable for cold composting or composting in open hot systems as they may smell and attract vermin.

Feathers

A "Green" but slow to compost. Best shredded or put in a "slow compost" bin

 Fish skins and bones (and Chips)

Can be hot composted in a closed container.  Not suitable for cold composting.

 Flowers - Deadheads, stems dead flower arrangements

A "Green" Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting. Purchased cut flowers will probally have been treated with chemicals to control insect pests and I have seen recommendations that they be  washed before being put in the bin (dunking them in a bucket of water might work).

 Frozen food

Can be hot composted if allowed to warm and defrost first.   Larger items should be chopped.  Not suitable for cold composting.

 Fruit stones

Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting. Will take a long time.  May survive cold composting.

 Garlic

Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting.  Not suitable for wormeries

Glossy paper

Can be hot composted, preferably shredded. . While it can be cold composted it will take a long time

Grapefruit

A "Green". Compostable in hot or cool composters but is a citrus fruit and should not be added to a wormery.

 Grass

 "Green" Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting.   Add in small layers and mix well to avoid a smelly anaerobic mess.

 Greens

Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting. 

 Guinea pig and gerbil faeces

Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting. As there is a disease risk from pathogenic bacteria with all manures hot composting where the composting temperatures are being monitored would be the safer option. However if you keep these pets you will be exposed to the organisms in the faeces anyway.

 Hair

A "Brown" Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting. Dog and cat hair composts more quickly than human hair. This is an advantage at home as having two Clumber Spanials I can fill my vacuum daily. Mix well to avoid the hair matting

 Hay

A "Brown" Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting. Excellent if first used for herbivore or chicken bedding.  Mix well with other materials.

Hemp bags, baskets etc.

Can be composted

Herbs and Spices (from the kitchen)

Old herbs and spices  can be composted

Holly Leaves

A "Brown. Slow to compost even for a leaf so is best shredded and made into leafmould in a separeat slow plastic bag (I like an old compost bag turned inside out).

House Plants

"Green" Suitable for hot and cold composting in bin or heap.

 Horse manure

Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting. As there is a disease risk from pathogenic bacteria with all manures hot composting where the composting temperatures are being monitored would be the safer option. However horse manure has been used on the land since ancient times and the potential risks should not be exaggerated.

 Human faeces

Can be hot composted but it is not recommended. Small scale Anaerobic Digesters exist which will convert human faeces to methane gas for cooking or heating. Specially designed composting toilets are also available.

 Ivy

This should be treated  an invasive weed. Do not compost at home.

Jam

Jam, jellies and other preserves can be hot composted. Not suitabe for cold composting as they may attract vermin

 Laurel leaves

A "Brown" Use to make leafmould in a sbag reserved from leaves that are slow to decompose. 

Leather

Old leather items such as belts, wallets or bags can be composterd but are best cut up before being added to the bin. May requiring retuern to the bin for a second time.

 Leaves

Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting but are slow. Autumn leaves are best used to produce leave mould by damping and leaving in a plastic sack for two years. Waxy green leaves should be shredded if possible. Leafmould

Legumes (shells of)

A "Green". Composts by all methods including wormeries.

 Leylandii

Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting but are slow even when shredded taking up to 5 years in a cold bin. ( More details at Composting Leylandii )

Lint

Lint from tumble dryers can be composted

Loofahs

Old loofahs (natural) can be composted best  cut into small pieces

 Japanese Knotweed

Not suitable for composting.  Very invasive plant, difficult to kill.  See DEFRA guidance

 Manure

All manure can be composted but as it may contain pathogens, such as Salmonella, This applies to both herbivores, such as cattle, and meat eaters so is probably best to use hot composting for both although the risks associated with herbivore manure that has been allowed to mature before cool composting is relatively. Do not add composted manure to the soil around plants close to harvesting. See specific reference for each animal for more details.

 Meat

Can be hot composted chopped into small pieces. Bones (even crushed) will take a long time to compost.  Not suitable for cold composting.

 Melons

Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting.   Seeds may survive cold composting. Suitable for wormeries chopped into small pieces.

 Milk

Although milk could be composted in enclosed hot composting systems it is usually not recommended to compost liquids as they tend to make the compost to wet for effective aerobic composting and smell!.

 Moss

Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting but is very slow. It helps to mix with the moss with grass.

Mushrooms

Mushrooms and mushroom peelings can be composted

 Nappies

Do not compost nappies.

 Newspaper

Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting but it is slow and is best recycled

 Nuts

Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting.  Best to crack nuts before composting. Will take a long time.  May survive cold composting.

 Olive oil

Can be composted in an enclosed hot composting system but only in small quantities.  Not suitable for cool composting systems

 Onions

Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting.  Not suitable for wormeries

 Parcel tape

The brown tape used to seal parcels is will survive hot or cool composting. Where possible it should be removed from cardboard before it is composted any missed at this stage can be removed from the final compost.

 Palm oil

Can be composted in an enclosed hot composting system but only in small quantities.  Not suitable for cool composting systems

 Paper

Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting but it is slow and is best recycled or used for grass boarding.  Shredded paper can be composted and is also good in a wormery.

Paper Towels

Paper towels  can be composted provided they are not contaminated by chemicals.

Even the white ones that have been bleached can be added to the worm bin provided in small amounts    

Paper Plates

These can be composted as paper unless they have a waxy coating

Passion Fruit.

Passion fruit vines can be composted but may not be killed by the composting process, even hot composting will not be effective unless high enough temperatures are reached and maintained. It is better, as with perennial weeds, to make sure the vines are dead before putting them in the bin. This can achieved by drying them in the sun or soaking them in boiling water.   They should be cut into small pieces before composting. I would avoid composting the roots. 

The rinds/shell of the fruit can be composted.  Chop or cut into small pieces

 Pasta

Can be hot composted.  Not suitable for cold composting.

 Peat

Old peat from grow bags etc can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting.

 Perennial Weeds

Can be hot composted.   Will survive cool composting.  Can be drowned by soaking in a bucket of water prior to composting but probably best sent to Council compost site.

 Pine Cones

Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting.

Pine Needles

These can be composted but take considerable time so are best composted separately. See Winter Composting

 Pig Manure

Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting. As there is a disease risk from pathogenic bacteria with all manures hot composting where the composting temperatures are being monitored would be the safer option. Because of the diet of pigs do not import the manure from another site.

 Pizza boxes

Can be hot composted.  Not suitable for cold composting as they may attract vermin.

 PLA Starch cutlery

Can be hot composted broken into small pieces 

 Plate scrapings

Can be hot composted.  Larger items such as baked potatoes should be cut into smaller pieces. Not suitable for cold composting.

Pond Mud and plants

These can be composted. Check plants for snails and other aquatic creatures.

 Pot plants

Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting

Potash Rock

Can be composted

Potpourri

Old potpourri can be composted. If added to the kichen caddy it helps mask the smell of the day or two before it is empied into the compost bin.

 Potato plants

Potato plants, including those that are blight infested, can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting. Infected potato tubers should not be cool composted. Tubers that are cool composted may crop inside the bin. Peelings from healthy potatoes can be added to the wormery.

 Prunings

Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting but best shredded

 Pumpkin

Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting.  Seeds may survive cold composting. Suitable for wormeries if cut into small pieces. Please see separate page on pumpkins Composting Pumpkins

  Rabbit manure/bedding

Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting. As there is a disease risk from pathogenic bacteria with all manures hot composting where the composting temperatures are being monitored would be the safer option. However if you keep pet rabbits you will be exposed to the organism in the faeces anyway

 Ragwort

Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting.  Seeds may survive cold composting

 Rape oil

Can be composted in an enclosed hot composting system but only in small quantities.  Not suitable for cool composting systems

 Rhubarb

Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting. The toxic oxalic acid decomposes readily

 Rice (cooked)

Can be hot composted.  Not suitable for cold composting.

Rope (hemp)

See sacking below

Sacking (hemp)

Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting.

 Salads

Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting.  Suitable for wormeries if it does not include onion. Tomato seeds will survive the cool composting process.

Saltine crackers

Can be hot composted. May attract vermin in cold compost bins

 Sawdust

Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting.  May be added as a bulking agent to some food composting systems.

 Seaweed

Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting some recommend washing  to remove salt first

Sea sponges

Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting some recommend washing  to remove salt first

 Snail shells

Can be composted when crushed using cold (cool) or hot composting

Snow

Winter snow helps insulated a winter bin. Snow can be added to the bin to increases its moisture content during the winter

 Shredded paper

Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting.  Suitable for wormeries.

 Soil

Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting. 

 Sheep manure

Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting. As there is a disease risk from pathogenic bacteria with all manures hot composting where the composting temperatures are being monitored would be the safer option.

 Squash

Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting.  Seeds may survive cold composting.  Suitable for wormeries if cut into small pieces

 Straw

Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting. 

 Tea bags

Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting. Some bags (plastic) may survive the composting process. Tear open and return to the bin.

Tissues

Used (paper)  facial tissues can be composted

 Tomatoes

Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting.  Seeds may survive cold composting.  Suitable for wormeries.

 Tomato plants

Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting. Plants with blight may be composted but I tend to send them to the Council composting site.  Seeds may survive cold composting. 

The fruit can be added to the wormery.

 Tumble dryer lint

Lint from organic clothing e.g., cotton or wool can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting that from synthetic clothing cannot

 Turf

Turf is usually composted separately from the compost heap using a turf (or sod) pile. A stack of turf will rot down to produce a really good material that can be used in making homemade potting composts.

Can also be composted using cold (cool) composting , it may block or reduce the air flow in a hot heap. Turf can be  incorporated  in a Hugelkulture mound.

 Twigs

Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting.   Larger twigs are best chipped or shredded. Twigs are often added at the bottom of the bin when starting to compost to aid air circulation.

 Vacuum cleaner contents

Material from organic carpets e.g., cotton or wool, pet hair can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting that from synthetic cannot.

 Vegetable and fruit waste from garden

Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting. Suitable for wormeries but do not over feed.

 Vegetable peelings and waste from kitchen

Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting. Suitable for wormeries.

 Vermiculite

Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting

 Water melon

Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting.   Seeds may survive cold composting. Suitable for wormeries chopped into small pieces.

 Weeds.

Young annual weeds that are not in seed can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting. Perennial weeds can be hot composted but will survive cool composting.  Can be drowned by soaking in a bucket of water prior to composting but probably best sent to Council compost site.

 Wood

Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting.   Best chipped or shredded. Twigs are often added at the bottom of the bin when starting to compost to aid air circulation.

Wood bark

See wood chip below. Very slow to compost

 Wood chip

Can be composted using cold (cool) or hot composting with small amounts   being  added to the conventional compost bin,  and many of us who keep chicken will be doing this after the birds added fertiliser to the wood chip.  Wood chip may also be added as a bulking agent to some food composting systems. 

Larger quantities can be composted in a separate wet heap. Ideally, the heap should be larger than the normal minimum of 3ft/1meter square is required for best results, at least 6ft square and 4ft high is recommended. As with the traditional heap, the wood chip heap should be built in layers, each layer being soaked with water, or compost tea.  The pile can be covered with wet leaves and a tarpaulin.  It should be checked regularly and watered if dry.  The compost should be ready as mulch in about 3 months and as compost in about six months.

Wool (and other natural fibres)

These can be composted, as can Woolcool insulated food packaging. Wool is included as an ingredient in some peat free bracken based commercially available  compostss

 Yogurt

Although yogurt could be composted in enclosed hot composting systems it is usually not recommended to compost liquids as they tend to make the compost  wet  which prevents  effective aerobic composting and may well result in a smell!.