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compost ingredients - dos and don'ts

I'm planing for my second garden and this time I would like to go organic, so needless to say compost is going to be playing a major role. I've never worked with compost before, but after some research I think I have a basic understanding of a proper brown:green (carbon:nitrogen) ratio. However, I'm a little unsure about putting certain items into the heap. I know of a few golden ingredients (UCGs, fruit/veggie scraps, aged manure, leaves, grass clippings, etc.) but I would be interested to hear your dos and don'ts of your personal compost piles and any knowledge you've gained along the way. If we could maybe compile some kind of list of good/bad ingredients that would be awesome!

The ingredients that spurred my quandary were avocado skins and egg shells. I make guacamole on a regular basis and go through eggs like no bodies business from having a steady supply thanks to my chickens. Should I use some scissors to rough cut the skins, and do I need to pre-crush the shells?

Super Green Thumb
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Joined: Tue May 06, 2008 11:02 pm
Location: El Cerrito, CA

Read the Stickies at the top of the Compost Forum. A couple of them deal with what goes into compost piles, browns/greens, etc.

Scissors aren't necessary, unless you have need of them due to hand-strength difficulties. I crush my eggshells before putting them into compost. I found out that I didn't particularly enjoy seeing the same shells year after year after year...

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

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Super Green Thumb
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Location: TN/GA 7b

Eggshells are fine; I just hand crunch them a little. But avocado shells will sit in your compost pile for years. You might as well just throw them away.

Otherwise as long as you don't put any meat in, pretty much anything else organic is ok. You don't want big sticks, because they also take too long to break down; keep a separate brush pile. Key is just diversity, you don't want more than 10% of your pile to be any one ingredient, if possible. (I fudge a little on that, because more than 10% of my pile, especially in winter, is fall leaves, but I figure they are oak leaves, maple leaves, hackberry leaves, etc etc. If you count those as all different ingredients, then I am still OK.)

I do put some dairy products, pastas, bread, and other things that some people will tell you don't go in, in my compost and never have any problems.
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