The materials you put into your compost pile have a major impact on how well the composting process works and the quality of the final compost. The key to good composting is to have a variety of materials and a balanced carbon to nitrogen ratio. Variety increases the types of microorganisms at work in your pile and your chances of obtaining a nutrient rich compost. Some folks think they don’t have enough organic material to build and maintain a compost pile. In addition to the leaves and grass clippings that we usually think of composting, there are numerous other suitable organic materials. Most of these materials are easy to find at home. Occasionally, it may be helpful to find free or cheap local sources of organics to add to a pile.
In contrast to those who worry about having enough materials, some folks want to put almost any type of organic material into their pile. While anything organic will eventually decompose, it may not belong in a backyard composting pile. It is important to be aware of these materials and the reasons they should be avoided. New and potential composters often have questions about what materials can be composted. A list of some commonly available materials is included in Table 2. Compostable materials that need special handling are mentioned in Table 3. Materials that should be avoided are named in Table 4.Commonly Used Compostable Materials