It’s an age-old question: what can go in compost?
If you pay attention to the experts, you get a great big silly list of “don’ts!”
Let’s throw that list out!
The Truth About What Can Go in Compost
If it’s organic and not contaminated with something nasty, like herbicides or heavy metals, throw it in. I add fish guts, hair, ashes, bones, seaweed, meat, paper, bread, charcoal, cake, raw manure and more.
I’ve even safely composted human waste in a compost pile, as I describe in Compost Everything: The Good Guide to Extreme Composting.
The many rules in composting end up making for lots of compost quitters. You don’t need all those rules. Nature was designed as a big recycling and composting machine. Trust that design and quit worrying.
If you want perfect, crumbly compost in a short period of time, you will need to follow some rules – but if you want a lot more compost over a little longer period of time, then don’t worry so much about getting ratios correct and chopping things up before adding them.
Nature will make great compost for you. Throw it on the ground.
Like… rats! So…
What about Rats?
Ah, rats. Everyone hates rats.
In the comments on my video, BonnieBlue2A wrote:
“The only way I would place anything that might attract rodents would be in a rural area and using the Berkeley Method of hot composting. Being considerate of neighbors and the host of problems rodent bring (disease/fleas) is important. Meat/bones really should be done under hot composting conditions.”
To which CrosStitching replied:
“Rodents are attracted to compost piles regardless of the presence of meat and bones. Soldier flies larva and others will pick the bones clean before rats get there. Compost piles make a good home for rats. Period. I’ve had them move into a mostly carbon rich compost pile. If you don’t want them in a compost pile, build a rodent proof enclosed compost pile with 2×4”s and hardware cloth with a locking lid.”
And I further wrote:
“Rats go after fruit peels, corn, rice, spaghetti noodles and all kinds of other things. Hot compost is nice, but it’s too much work to get started all the time. I’m certainly not going to throw out all that potential fertility because of rodent worries. Sure, if you’re in a city area, though, I get it. I would just hardware cloth the area and then throw everything in. Rats will find compost no matter what, as CrosStitching notes.”
Of course, if you trap rats you can compost them too. I’m growing some nice pumpkins on top of a composted rat right now.
Don’t fear the rodents, as Blue Compost Cult once sang.
But What About Bones Not Breaking Down?
No, bones don’t break down all that quickly, but they do break down eventually – and they’re good for your plants! Why throw them out? Keep tossing them back into the pile or go ahead and rake them right into your garden.
Someone commented on the bones scattered across some of my beds once and I had to explain it to them. No, it’s not typical – but they feed your vegetables.
As I state in the video, people won’t throw meat and bones in their compost but they do go to the store and buy blood meal and bone meal.
There’s a disconnect here! Just compost it.
Compost everything, folks. You won’t believe what can go in compost piles and come out beautiful.
RED Gardens shared success with no-rules composting recently (as I posted here and share in my recent video). If you think I’m nuts, maybe his less nutty approach might appeal to you more:
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Finally, I now have over 14,300 subscribers on my YouTube channel. John Kohler has 372,000. That means I’m 1/26 of the way to reaching him.
Almost there. Soon, soon.