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What to add to the compost mix

March 17, 2008|By JULIE E. GREENE

More than vegetable scraps can go in your compost pile, but there are also plenty of things to avoid putting in compost.

Gardeners break most ingredients down into browns (sources of carbon) and greens (sources of nitrogen).

While cantaloupe can be put in a compost pile, at least two people who have taken or are taking the master gardener program through the Maryland Cooperative Extension said adding cantaloupe to their compost piles made the piles attractive to groundhogs.

If you know there's a particular food that a nuisance animal in your area likes, don't add it to the compost pile, says Annette Ipsan, horticulture extension educator with the Washington County Office of the Maryland Cooperative Extension.

You can add rinsed eggshells and used potting soil to the compost pile, but don't add too much of the latter, Ipsan says.

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Corrugated cardboard also can be added, but it should not have any waxy or plastic coating, and it should be shredded, she says. The finer the shreds, the quicker the composting.

Here's a list of things to add - browns and greens - and things to avoid when creating compost:

Browns

Cornstalks and corncobs, chopped up

Dry leaves, chopped

Straw and hay

Shrub trimmings

Wood chips

Shredded, uncoated copier paper

Browns to use sparingly

Shredded newsprint (only use newspapers printed with soy ink, such as The Herald-Mail)

Sawdust and wood chips

Shredded telephone books

Greens

Alfalfa

Coffee grounds

Fruit and vegetable waste

Grass clippings

Fresh hay

Manure from cows, horses, poultry, sheep or rabbits

Seaweed

Garden trimmings that are not diseased

Weeds without seeds

Do not add:

Bones

Dog or cat manure/litter

Vegetable oils (including salad dressing or mayonnaise)

Petroleum products

Dairy products

Diseased or insect-ridden plants

Glossy paper

Lard

Lime

Mayonnaise

Meat products

Peanut butter

Wood ashes

ยท Sources: "Backyard Composting" flier from the Maryland Cooperative Extension; Annette Ipsan, horticulture extension educator with the Washington County Office of the Maryland Cooperative Extension.

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