You can use a compost bin to convert kitchen and garden waste to something useful for your plants and garden. Making compost can be a rewarding and entertaining pastime. If you are careful and meticulous in your planning and execution, you will be rewarded with pleasant-smelling ‘black gold’ that is highly beneficial to your soil and plants.
There are several compost bin ingredients that you must keep out of your composting pile, mostly for hygiene and health reasons.
Milk, yogurt, butter, cream and sour cream are all bad choices for a compost pile. As these ingredients start to rot, the compost will emit an increasingly foul odor. Dairy products also attract pests like rodents and flies.
Do not add bones, meat, animal fat, whole eggs or other animal waste in the compost pile. Similar to dairy products, these ingredients are open invitations for pests and disease-carrying organisms. The composting process will be slowed down considerably as well, because these items are slow to decompose and break down.
The same is true of fats like oils, lard and grease, which are also not beneficial to the composting process. However, you may add empty crumbled egg shells to your pile or bin.
Waste from Carnivorous Animals
While manure from grass-eating animals like cows, sheep and horses is highly beneficial to compost, it is not advisable to put human, cat or dog waste in your bin. Waste from pets, carnivorous animals and humans contains disease carrying pathogens and bacteria. When added to the soil, it will propagate the spread of disease, infect your plants and make you sick.
Diseased Plants and Weeds
The process of composting produces high temperatures that usually kill most disease-causing pathogens in the compost pile. However, when you produce compost at home on a small scale, you are not assured of complete exposure of all these pathogens to a high temperature. As a result, weeds may survive the composting process and infest the soil when the compost is added to it.
Similarly, if you add plants that succumbed to disease, the infection-causing bacteria or fungi may also outlive the composting procedure and infect new crops to which you apply the prepared compost.
Plants Treated with Pesticides or Herbicides
The composting process relies on microbes to decompose organic matter. If you add plants that were treated with pesticides or herbicides, the residual effect of these chemicals will be harmful to the beneficial microorganisms in your compost pile.
Gasoline, Diesel, Petrol and Chemicals
When added to the composting pile, these substances may release toxins that are harmful to people and also to the environment.
Substances like plastic containers, glass, foil, plastic wrap, etc. are not beneficial in a compost pile. These materials are not affected by the decomposition process, and will only slow it down. It is best to recycle these materials.
Treated Wood or Wood Clippings/Sawdust
Manufactured wood that has been pressure-treated or chemical-treated is not good for composting. You must also avoid clippings or sawdust from such wood as these materials can release toxins in the compost.