Ashleigh Smith + photo

Ashleigh Smith

May 24
2 min read
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What can you compost?

As spring is in full swing it is time to consider how you are going to care for your garden throughout the summer and fall. Once you have your garden planted you are tasked with keeping it happy, healthy, and alive through the rest of the season.

To help keep your plants happy we recommend applying compost throughout the year. This will help return organic matter to your soils. Organic matter is that nutrient-rich, dark soil component responsible for supporting healthy plants.

If you live in or have been to areas like Eastern Washington or Oregon you will notice the upper soil layer is naturally dark and moist, while still allowing water to drain. This is due to the high organic matter content. Unfortunately, the whole world doesn’t get the blessing of having soil like this.

To improve your soil you can use the composting process to help put essential nutrients back in the soil for future growth. For some basic information on how to get started check out our previous post called, “What is Compost?”.

Here I am going to give you a list of what you can and can’t include in your compost piles.

What can you compost?

  • Organic Materials
  • Grass clippings
  • Tree leaves and twigs
  • Vegetable food scraps
  • Coffee grounds
  • Teabags
  • Black and white newspaper
  • Print paper
  • Disease-free yard waste
  • Cardboard
  • Vegetarian animal manure
  • Wood shavings or sawdust
  • Ash from natural wood
  • House plants
  • Nutshells

Do not compost these materials:

  • Non-vegetarian manure (Dog, Cat, etc.)
  • Color newspaper
  • Noxious weeds - Can spread weeds from even a little bit of plant material. It is best to just discard or burn weed material
  • Diseased yard waste - Burn or discard
  • Food scraps with animal products - You may experience medium to large pests trying to retrieve discarded scraps from your compost bin, even if it is locked
  • Black walnut tree leaves or twigs - Black walnut trees contain a natural chemical that is harmful to other plants. This is why you hardly see anything growing within their drip lines
  • Yard waste treated with synthetic pesticides
Ashleigh Smith's photo

I'm Ashleigh Smith, a native to Northern Utah. I first gained a love of gardening with my grandmother as I helped her each summer. I decided to make a career of it and have recently graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Horticulture from Brigham Young University - Idaho. My studies have focused on plant production while I also have experience in Nursery & Garden Center Operations.


True Leaf Market

Vegetable scraps with seeds can sprout in compost piles if it is not maintained at the proper temperature range. Compost piles should be kept at 130-170 degrees F (54-76 C) otherwise the seeds may remain viable. To prevent sprouting you can simply remove the seed contents before adding your vegetable scraps to your compost bin.

Cathy Menne

Thanks for the informative list. However I am wondering about vegetable food scraps containing seeds. Will the seeds (for example sweet pepper or tomato seeds) decompose or will they remain viable during composting? Thanks again.