Recycling NJ
Composting

Composting

Composting is an easy way to reduce the amount of food and garden waste going to land fill and provides a free source of nutrient rich soil for your garden.

What Can Be Composted?

We have separated the list of compostable materials into two columns.

The 'greens' will decompose rapidly and provide a vital source of nitrogen and moisture for the worms and microbes that perform the composting process. The 'browns' are organic materials that get broken down more slowly but provide an important source of carbon to the compost.

Greens Browns
  • Animal manure
  • Coffee grounds and filters
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Grass clippings
  • Hair and fur
  • Houseplants
  • Tea bags
  • Yard trimmings
  • Branches, bark,
  • Cardboard rolls
  • Dryer and vacuum cleaner lint
  • Egg shells
  • Fireplace ashes
  • Hay and straw
  • Leaves
  • Nut shells
  • Paper towels/tissues
  • Paperboard (e.g. cereal boxes)
  • Sawdust
  • Shredded paper
  • Wine bottle corks (unless plastic)
  • Wood chips

What shouldn't I compost?

The following organic materials should not be placed in your composter because they will either attract rodents or the compost produced would be detrimental to your garden.

  • Black walnut tree leaves or twigs
  • Coal or charcoal ash
  • Dairy products (e.g., butter, egg yolks, milk, sour cream, yogurt)
  • Diseased or insect-ridden plants
  • Fats, grease, lard, or oils
  • Meat or fish bones and scraps
  • Pet wastes (e.g., dog or cat feces, soiled cat litter)
  • Yard trimmings treated with chemical pesticides

Where can I get a composter?

  • Home improvement stores or local garden centers sell composters of all shapes and sizes and will provide advice regarding the type of composter that is most suitable for you and the size of your garden.

Amazon, Composters.com, Home Depot, Lowes, Target

Tips for composting

Here are a few simple steps to follow for successful composting.

Firstly find a good site for your composter.

  • Place on top of well drained soil in a part of the garden that gets at least some sunshine during the day.
  • By placing the composter on top of soil, earth worms and microbes from the garden will be able to get into the composter to decompose the organic material inside. A bit of warmth from the sun will help to speed up the composting process.

Add organic materials to the composter.

  • Successful composting requires a mixture of three ingredients. You need 'greens' which are quickly broken down and provide nitrogen and moisture, 'browns' that decompose more slowly but provide a source of carbon to the compost and air so that the microbes have a source of oxygen. You should try to add roughly equal amounts of greens and browns to your composter.
  • It is straight forward to know if your mix of greens and browns is correct by looking at the contents of the composter after a week or two.
  • Too many greens - the composter will contain flies, have a strong smell and be warm to touch. After a few months the compost material will become a slimy, sludge-like mess as the organic material has been rapidly decomposed.
  • Too many browns - the compost will look very dry and you will not see much change in the appearance of the compost after a couple of weeks. The depth of compost in the composter will also remain constant instead of decreasing with time.
  • If the compost looks very dry add in more greens and give it a good mix. Alternatively if it is too wet mix in more of the browns. You should not need to water the compost as the moisture will be provided by the greens as they decompose.
  • Use a garden fork or compost aerator to mix the compost material every month or so to ensure that there are air pockets within the material.
  • If you have the compost mix right you should not notice a strong smell but the compost will look moist without the need for watering. You will see the 'greens' decompose rapidly within a month so the level of the compost will drop down in the composter. It will take a year before the compost is ready for use in the garden but after this time you should have moist crumbly organic soil. Some of the browns such as twigs may not have fully decomposed by this stage but this compost can still be used as a great soil improver for your garden or pot plants.