While it’s true that just about everything will break down given enough time, there are plenty of items you won’t want to add to the compost. Certain materials will take entirely too long to break down and will end up filling the mix with tough chunks. Other items tend to rot and can attract pests. To ensure your pile remains healthy and breaks down rapidly, it’s important to know the different items you should not put in compost.
Avoid Meat and Bones
To begin with, avoid meats and related animal byproducts. While meat of any variety ultimately breaks down and provides essential nutrition to the soil, it’s not the same process as composting. Different species of insects and bacteria target meat, resulting in dangerous colonies that are unhealthy for you and your crops. What’s more, the meat will begin to rot rather than decompose in the way plant matter does. Besides the unpleasantness of the smell, scavengers and vermin will be attracted and may damage the compost pile to raid it for leftovers.
No Dairy and Eggs
Along with meat, the different items you should not put in compost include dairy products and eggs. In general, they’re not suitable due to their tendency to ferment. The resulting smell of rotting milk or eggs will attract unwanted visitors. Eggshells, on the other hand, do provide valuable calcium to the resulting compost. It’s best to rinse and dry the eggshells before reducing them to a fine grind or powder. Otherwise, eggshells can take up to a year to fully compost.
Never Add Oils or Fats
Certain materials are too tough to be consumed by bacteria and broken down properly. Fats and oils will linger in piles and may even negatively impact the culture of microorganisms. What’s more, they can and will begin to ferment and spoil long before they’re broken down. Like meats and bones, which are also rich in oils, the resulting stench may attract pests. While that doesn’t mean your compost will necessarily be host to unwanted vermin, it does mean local scavengers may learn to visit it habitually.
Onions, Garlic, and Citruses
While it may seem counterintuitive, certain plants are detrimental to compost. This is because compost needs to have certain microorganisms and insects present to rapidly and adequately break down. Onions, garlic, citrus fruits, and even some vegetation and leaves can kill off a healthy population inside the compost. What makes certain plants toxic is typically a high amount of acid or other poisonous or abrasive compounds.
Plants That Have Gone To Seed
Tossing weeds or fruits and veggies that aren’t good to eat into the compost is all completely fine. However, if the things added to the compost contain viable seeds, there’s a good chance the compost may turn into a miniature garden. While composting equipment will likely keep sprouting under control on the compost pile, it won’t always wipe out the plants. As a result, weeds and unwanted plants will start popping up anywhere the compost is spread.