What to toss in
Think brown and green — you’ll want a mix of the two.
Browns include wood chips and dried leaves from trees. These items are sources of carbon. So are newspapers. “One or two copies of The New York Times shredded up will give you all the browns you need,” Tukey said.
Greens can include grass clippings and other yard waste and food scraps, including such things as vegetable or fruit peels and coffee grounds. These provide nitrogen.
Use twice as much green material as brown material if you can turn the pile often, Tukey said. “If you don’t turn your pile, go more 50-50 or even 2-1 in the other direction to start,” he said. “Too much green in a pile that is not turned bears the risk of rotting and stinking rather than composting.”
Compost is created when microorganisms break down the organic matter into nutrients.
By adding soil or some compost, you can jump-start the process.
Environmentalists recommend that you don’t throw meat or fish scraps or dairy products into your compost bin. Those could attract rodents. Material treated with pesticides also should not be composted, especially if you want to use the finished product in your vegetable garden, nor should you use weeds that have gone to seed.
You’ll also want to keep the compost pile moist, but not wet, and make sure it’s aerated.