Ron Wilson

Ron Wilson

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50 Things You Can Compost

Greens for Your Compost Bin"

Greens" are the nitrogen-rich additions to your compost pile. These tend to have lots of moisture, break down quickly, and provide a quick burst of heat to your pile. While we call them "greens," technically any plant matter will work here: coffee grounds, for example, are brown in color, but they're rich in nitrogen, hence, they're a "green." Here are some ideas of greens for your pile:

Fruit and vegetable peels

Citrus rinds

Melon rinds

Coffee grounds

Tea leaves/tea bags

Old vegetables from the crisper

Houseplant trimmings

Weeds that haven't gone to seed

Grass clippings

Fresh leaves

Deadheads from flowers

Dead plants (as long as they aren't diseased)


Cooked plain rice

Cooked plain pasta

Stale bread

Corn husks

Corn cobs

Broccoli stalks

Sod that you've removed to make new garden beds

Thinnings from the vegetable garden

Spent bulbs that you used for forcing indoors

Holiday greenery (from wreaths and swags, for example) -- just be sure to cut the stems off of the wreath form or wires first)

Old, less flavorful packaged herbs and spices

Egg shells

Browns for Your Compost Bin"Browns" are the carbon-rich materials in your compost that add aeration to the pile and structure to your compost.

They break down more slowly, so it's a good idea to chop them up fairly small if you're able to. Here are some browns to put in your compost pile:

Shredded newspaper

Shredded office paper/school papers

Shredded, non-glossy junk mail

Torn up plain corrugated cardboard boxes (not with glossy coatings)

StrawBedding from hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits

Fall leaves

Chopped up twigs and small branches

Pine cones

Nut shells (avoid walnut shells as they can inhibit plant growth)

Used napkins

Toilet paper, paper towel, or wrapping paper tubes (cardboard>

Fallen bird's nests

Pine needles/pine straw

Paper coffee filters (used)

Pressed paper egg cartons, torn into small pieces

Sawdust (only from untreated wood

Brown paper shopping bags, shredded/torn

Brown paper lunch bags, shredded/torn

Leftover peat or coir from seed starting

Coir liners for hanging baskets

Wood chips

Bedding from chickens

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