What Can You Compost? Checklist

Leafmould and Muck Heaps


Although you can add autumn leaves to your compost heap for bulk, don’t add too many at once because they contain almost no nitrogen and break down very slowly.

It is best to rot them on their own into crumbly leafmould which releases nutrients very slowly, makes a superb mulch and soil conditioner, and can be used as a base for potting compost.

leafmould - composting leaves For a small quantity of leaves you can just scoop them, wet, into black polythene bags where they will rot down into useable leafmould. The decaying process doesn’t need oxygen as it is carried out by fungi whose spores exist on all dead leaves. But if you have leaves in quantity, make leafmould in special purpose enclosures made of wire netting around sturdy poles up to 1.5m tall.

Rake leaves into the enclosures and when you have a sizeable pile wet and trample them to compact them, then add more. When your pile of leaves is up to the top of the wire, water the leaves further and forget about them for a year or so. If you have space you can leave the leafmould to develop for several years.



Manure is an important addition to the compost heap, but let most muck rot separately rather than reducing its bulk through composting.

Either leave small quantities to rot inside a black plastic sack, tied at the neck to keep air out, or make a manure heap. You don’t want this to heat up too much or it gets invaded by ‘fire-fang’ fungus which destroys nutrients.

So compact muck as much as possible to restrict air then cover the heap tightly with polythene. As the manure heats up and ferments steam will condense and drip back onto the manure to cool it down. The muck will be rotted ready for use within two to three months.


What Can You Compost? Checklist

Get going with swift to rot activators

  • Grass cuttings
  • Poultry manure
  • Comfrey leaves
  • Pigeon manure
  • Young weeds
  • Bat droppings
  • Nettle leaves and plants
  • Urine
  • Horsetail


Keep going – with regular supplies

  • Fruit and vegetable scraps
  • Eggshells, tea bags and coffee grounds
  • Vegetable plant remains — even diseased plants can be composted if your heap heats up
  • Well-rotted strawy manure
  • Straw and hay— these are slow to rot
  • Young hedge clippings and soft prunings
  • Hair and feathers
  • Shredded woolly jumpers and cotton socks
  • Hamster, guinea pig and rabbit bedding and droppings
  • Old plants
  • Old cut flowers — purchased flowers can be very high in pesticide residues
  • Vacuum/dustpan contents
  • Pond weed


Slow going – add in moderation

  • Corncobs — chop up well
  • Cabbage stems — chop well
  • Cardboard
  • Paper bags
  • Cardboard tubes and egg boxes
  • Woodash
  • Autumn leaves
  • Tough hedge clippings
  • Woody prunings
  • Sawdust
  • Wood shavings


Keep away – never compost

  • Meat and fish scraps
  • Fat and oil
  • Bones
  • Thorny prunings
  • Coal and coke ash
  • Blighted potato tubers or tomatoes (stems are fine to compost)
  • Dog and cat excrement
  • Disposable nappies
  • Glossy magazines


10. December 2010 by admin
Categories: Compost Making, Soil Cultivation | Tags: | Comments Off on What Can You Compost? Checklist


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