The Why, How and What of Composting

Your garden really benefits if you use compost.

Compost is a soil-like mixture that consists largely of decayed organic matter and is used for fertilizing and conditioning land. Home composting reduces the need for water, fertilizers, and pesticides and encourages a higher yield in crops. It also reduces the amount of waste products you discard. Consisting of nutrient-rich brown and green material, compost creation takes little effort and can be done by just one household or on larger scales.

Creating your own compost will save you money and is easy to do! With compost starters like Ringer® Compost Plus available to help organically speed up the process, you can start reaping the benefits of your own compost in no time. Your plants and the environment will thank you.

Why Compost? This infographic, brought to you by Avant Garden Decor, home of Gardener’s Blue Ribbon® vegetable gardening products, takes a look at the basics of home compost production and its benefits.

Composting Infographic
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com•post: noun: \käm-,p?st\: a mixture that consists largely of decayed organic matter and is used for fertilizing and conditioning land (Source: Merriam Webster)

Why Compost?

  • Reduce or eliminate the need for chemical fertilizers
  • Promote higher yields of agriculture crops
  • Remove solids, oil, grease, and heavy metals from stormwater runoff
  • Reduces the need for water, fertilizers, and pesticides
  • Captures & destroys 99.6% of industrial volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) in contaminated air
  • More than 25% of the typical household’s waste is yard trimmings and food scraps that can be composted (Source:

Community Composting Programs Exist

They’re beneficial because…

  • Provides a neighborhood level local operation
  • Encourages people to get involved in the production and use of compost
  • Produced compost can benefit the local community’s gardens, parks, etc.
  • Can create a gateway to other environmentally-friendly community initiatives

In order for a compost pile to decompose efficiently, you need to create the right ratio of carbon (C) to nitrogen (N) (C/N). An ideal compost pile should have a 30:1 C/N ratio. Grass clippings alone have about a 20:1 C/N ratio. (Source:

Greens vs. Browns

The mixture of green materials and brown materials is a crucial combination for composting success. Green materials are rich in nitrogen or protein and tend to heat a compost pile up. Brown materials are carbon or carbohydrate-rich and they are the food sources for all the organisms that will work with the microbes to break down your compost.


  • Fall leaves
  • Pine needles
  • Twigs, chipped tree branches/bark
  • Straw or hay
  • Sawdust
  • Corn stalks
  • Paper (newspaper, writing/printing paper, paper plates and napkins, coffee filters)
  • Dryer lint
  • Cotton fabric
  • Corrugated cardboard (without any waxy/slick paper coatings)


  • Grass clippings
  • Coffee grounds/tea bags
  • Vegetable and fruit scraps
  • Trimmings from perennial and annual plants
  • Annual weeds (that haven’t set seed)
  • Eggshells
  • Animal manures (cow, horse, sheep, chicken, rabbit, etc. No dog or cat manure.)
  • Seaweed

What to Compost:

  • Paper napkins
  • Freezer-burned foods
  • Pet hair
  • Wood chips
  • Hay
  • Popcorn (unpopped, ‘Old Maids,’ too)
  • Old spices
  • Pine needles
  • Leaves
  • Matches (paper or wood)
  • Seaweed and kelp
  • Hops
  • Chicken manure
  • Grass clippings
  • Potato peelings
  • Weeds
  • Rabbit manure
  • Hair clippings from the barber
  • Stale bread
  • Coffee grounds
  • Wood ashes
  • Sawdust
  • Tea bags and grounds
  • Shredded newspapers
  • Egg shells
  • Cow manure
  • Fruit rinds and wastes
  • Pea vines
  • Houseplant trimmings
  • Old pasta
  • Garden soil
  • Kleenex tissues
  • Milk (in small amounts)
  • Soy milk
  • Tree bark
  • Flower petals
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Expired flower arrangements
  • Stale potato chips
  • Nut shells
  • Cover crops
  • Tea bags (black and herbal)
  • Apple cores
  • Kitchen wastes
  • Lint from clothes dryer
  • Tofu (it’s only soybeans, man!)
  • Banana peels
  • Wooden toothpicks
  • ‘Dust bunnies’ from under the bed
  • Brown paper bags
  • Animal fur
  • Horse manure
  • Vacuum cleaner bag contents


How to Compost

  1. Decide the location – An open pile or a bin are options
  2. Use Ringer® Compost Starter to initiate & speed-up the process
  3. Fill the space with green and brown materials
  4. Mix them thoroughly to activate the materials
  5. Add materials as they become available to continue creating compost
  6. Weekly: be sure to turn the pile using a pitchfork
  7. Harvest your compost and add it to your garden

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