The Q&A Archives: Ingredients For Compost

Question: I have a few questions about what I can and cannot compost. I have heard that rabbit droppings are good but how about guinea pig and mouse droppings (might as well compost all the rodent pets we have)? And I want to raise 2 to 3 chickens. Do I just add their droppings in the compost bin or does it need to age longer? Also, I have read that you can only compost raw vegetables. I was wondering if I can compost the cob after we eat the corn if it has been cooked.

Answer: Composting is a wonderful way to recycle organic matter (without overloading our landfills), and the finished compost will give back to your soil what your plants took earlier in the season to help sustain their growth. The cautions about what to compost and what to keep out of the pile are based on a couple of concerns. First of all, you don't want to introduce disease-causing pathogens into the organic matter that you'll be spreading around your yard. Therefore experts warn not to include feces from humans, pigs, dogs, cats, or any other meat eating creature. If your pets are strictly vegetarian, then including their droppings shouldn't cause concern. Chicken manure will be very hot if added fresh, but if you mix it around in the pile, it should be fine. (A pile that's too hot isn't as efficient as one that warms slowly and maintains the heat it's generating.) As far as adding cooked veggies to the pile, you can do so, providing you don't include a lot of fat along with the veggies. Meat scraps and butter, oil, etc. will attract rodents, dogs, and other scavengers to your compost pile, as well as an abundance of flies and other pests. It's best to keep such things out, or at least keep their inclusion to an absolute minimum to avoid attracting the "wrong element" to your compost pile. Hope this clarifies things for you!

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