Six items to avoid putting in your compost bin

Photo by Patricia Valério from Unsplash

Composting is a simple and ideal way to transform kitchen waste into something beneficial for a garden and the environment. But not everything can be composted. 

While materials like onion scraps, citrus peels, eggshells, and stale bread can be added in small amounts, here are six items that shouldn’t be added to a compost pile.

1. Meat and fish scraps

Old seafood and rotting meat have a powerful yet foul smell. This odor can attract rats, flies, and other pests that could contaminate compost and prevent the growth of good bacteria that promotes healthy plant growth and improves soil quality.

2. Dairy, fats, and oils

Cheese, butter, milk, sour cream, and yogurt also attract unwanted visitors to a compost pile. Plus, processed foods contain a lot of dairy or fat that could affect the outcome of the compost.

3. Plants treated with chemicals

Another item to avoid adding in compost piles is plants that have been treated with chemicals like insecticides, fungicides, or herbicides. Chemical residue can unintentionally kill the beneficial composting organisms and may affect plants in the garden after the compost is added.

4. Disease or pest-infested plants 

Hot compost piles need to reach a particular temperature, 61 to 63 degrees Celsius, for at least several days to kill pests and diseases that came along with plants. But most piles don’t reach such temperatures, giving pests and diseases a chance to survive in them and making the compost less beneficial than it should be. The same goes for weeds that have gone to seed. To avoid sowing weeds in a garden, avoid adding them to a compost pile.

5. Charcoal ash 

Although ashes can be added to a compost pile, coal and charcoal ash should be skipped entirely. These materials contain high amounts of sulfur which can make the compost too acidic for most plants. It can also become harmful to a garden.

6. Dog or cat waste

Pet waste is another material to avoid adding to a compost bin. These can turn the end product into hazardous waste because cats and dogs carry bacteria and parasites that can harm human health. 

If done correctly, a compost pile has many benefits to plants and the soil. Gardeners can also help lessen their carbon footprint by turning their waste into something helpful to the environment, provided that they don’t add any harmful materials that could affect how it turns out. 

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