A Guide to Compost: Composting At Home

By Anonymous on 11/04/2015

composting soil

Composting, the process of recycling organic matter into a fertilizer, has been helping gardeners, landscapers, and farmers for so long that no one truly knows the origins of it. Some of the earliest writings about composting came from the ancient Akkadian Empire, which dated between the third and second millennia BC and was considered the first empire by some historians. Akkadia was located near Mesopotamia, now modern day Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Syria, and other countries found within the Fertile Crescent. But even before then, historians see evidence of composting being used before then through archeological studies. So the question, then, isn’t when composting came about but rather why composting is important.

To Compost or Not to Compost

A compost pile is great addition to your garden for many reasons. It acts as a soil conditioner and a fertilizer, it adds humic acids to the soil, and it works as a natural pesticide. A compost pile is also great for the environment because it helps reduce landfill waste and your carbon footprint. Composting breaks down items to either nitrogen or carbon, which makes soil more fertile, resulting in a better garden and lawn. Below we have provided some dos and don’ts of what you should put in your compost pile at home.

composting guide

Things You Should Compost!

biodegradable items for composting

Here are some common household items that are better of in a compost pile instead of in the trash.

Banana Peels The thready fruit sheath breaks down quicker if it's chopped up.
Cardboard Shred into small piece. Recycle it if you have a lot.
Coffee Grounds The filter will break down too!
Corn Stalks or Corn Cobs Shred or blend before throwing into your compost.
Egg Shells Crush the shells into fine pieces before you add them to your pile.
Human Hair Scatter the hair so it doesn’t clump.
Leather Chop it up into tiny pieces so it breaks down quicker.
Newspaper Tear into tiny strips, but not comic strips.

Things you should not compost

nonbiodegradable items you cannot compost

Now that you know what you should put in your new compost pile, you should probably know what things to avoid putting in your compost pile. These are items that do not break down into nitrogen or carbon. Anything else might kill the necessary bacteria that is required for a successful compost pile.

Dog or Cat Fecal Material While some bacteria can be great for a compost pile, any non-herbivore leavings could be a potential danger to your compost pile.
Weeds Unless they are dried completely, weeds could actually stop any good bacteria from growing and stop your compost pile from being a success.
Lime While limes and their peels are used in a variety of gardening tricks, adding lime or lime skins to your compost pile could raise the acidity level and kill of any helpful bacteria.
Ashes These, along with coal, may contain materials that are toxic to a compost pile or plant environment.
Meat, oils, or bones These items contain "coating" materials that may help preserve what you actually want broken down in your compost pile. These items interfere with the composting cycle.


Composting is a great way to turn your trash into something useful for the environment. Share pictures of your compost pile with us on Facebook