Composting Ingredients

Yes or No
Note: The presence of a C, N or O in the C:N column indicates whether the C:N values of the material tend to be carbonaceous (C), nitrogenous (N) or other (O).

Material Use? C:N Comments
Algae and seaweed Yes N Good nutrient source.
Ash from charcoal or coal No   Contains sulfur dioxides, may harm plants in the garden.
Ashes from wood fireplace or stove Yes, but very alkaline O Can cause nutrient imbalance problems. Use no more than a fine sprinkling very 18 inches or so.
Bird droppings No   Droppings from pet birds may contain disease organisms and weed seeds.
Cardboard Yes C

Best if shredded into small pieces.
Glue is usually organic.

Cat feces or litter No   May contain disease organisms.
Cottonseed meal Yes N Can be used as a source of nitrogen in the fall when green grass clippings are scarce. Use the amount in a large coffee can for each nitrogen layer.
Dog droppings No   May contain disease organisms.
Diseased plants No   Piles often do not get hot enough to destroy all diseases.
Dryer lint Yes N May need to be moistened.
Food scraps No   May attract rodents and other pests.
Hair Yes N Add moisture and mix thoroughly in the pile.
Manure (horse, cow, pig, sheep, goat, chicken, rabbit) Yes N Excellent source of nitrogen. Fresh manure has a high water content; mix with drier materials.
Newspaper Yes C Recommend shredding into small pieces.
Most inks today are safe for garden use.
Pine cones and needles (redwood, eucalyptus) Yes, but use sparingly N Recommend shredding and adding in small quantities. Other compost materials will neutralize their acid effect.
Sawdust and wood shavings Yes, but may need to add extra nitrogen C Has a high carbon content. Avoid sawdust from pressure-treated wood.
Weeds Yes, but not seeds or spreading roots N Annual weeds which have not gone to seed can be composted. Plants that spread through roots or runners should be spread on pavement to dry thoroughly before adding to compost.