Ingredients For Compost

What to add to your compost pile.

Many people worry about which ingredients for compost are best to add to get a nutrient dense result.  And some really over-stress. Hey, it’s just compost. Don’t get anxious because you watch your gardening friends toss ideas back and forth and fuss and fret. That’s just gardeners! It’s really pretty simple and, oddly enough, it’s fun. So relax and enjoy yourself.

Here’s a list (probably partial) of the many materials you can use for compost.

But wait, before you start gathering your ingredients, here’s just a few things to ask:

1.       Are the materials you want to use chemical free? No sprays or pesticides.

2.       Are the materials you want to use disease and contaminant free?

3.       Is there any glass, wire or other sharp objects, like thorns or non-compostable material that you don’t want in the mix?

The List

Alfalfa hay and meal

Weeds from a pond

Wood ashes – just sprinkle lightly between layers

Bird cage cleanings

Vegetable trimmings – shred, cut or mash

Citrus rinds

Banana skins

Fruit peels and trimmings

Bean and pea shells and foliage

Coffee grounds

Cat Litter - unused


Corn cobs – shred or chopped into small pieces

Hedge clippings



Leaf mold

Cottonseed hulls

Grass clippings



Egg shells – grind or crush

Oat straw

Peanut hulls

Agricultural lime

Seaweed  (Kelp)

Winery waste – grape pomace


Rhubarb leaves – cut or chopped small

Peat moss

Tea leaves

Weeds – if your compost heap gets very hot, the weed seeds will be destroyed

Wheat straw


Sphagnum moss

Soybean straw

Rice hulls

Seafood shells – grind first oyster, lobster, crab, clam, and mussel shells

Fish scraps – Bury these deep in the pile where it’s hot but stop using if it attracts animals


Sour milk

Brewery wastes, like hops

Melon plants – non-diseased leaves, vines and rinds chopped small

Cucumber plants – non-diseased, insect free


Some ingredients for compost or call the activators because they really rev up the power or fire of your compost heap.  Here’s a list of some of the things that are good activators.  Remember to layer them in just as you do with any other ingredients.

Alfalfa meal – this might be the best activator and you can find it as “Litter Green” kitty litter or as rabbit food pellets.  Look for it at feed stores.


Compost you already have



Blood meal

Cotton seed meal

Dry dog food

Fish meal

Hoof and horn meal

As you can see when you are looking for ingredients for compost, you can use all vegetable materials if you would prefer.

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