The Great Compost List

In all of my adult life, I’ve somehow managed to live in places where I’ve never had me own plot o’ land to tend.

 After four years in a concrete college dorm, I moved with 5 other girls into a charming condo where we unknowingly planted sun-loving flowers in our shady 12 foot square dirt patch.  That led to five years of “black thumb discouragement” which got me through more years in the college dorm where gardening didn’t even enter my mind as a Resident Director at Biola University.

Once my hubs and I moved to DC and started having kids, fresh green stuff growing out of the ground started to sound more appealing.   But if you’ve ever lived in a metropolis, you know that yard space is not at a premium, so I eventually signed up for a community garden plot.  The first year produced a decent harvest, but it was all down hill from there.  Something about dragging multiple children multiple blocks to water in the full heat and humidity of the DC summer just didn’t pan out for us:

 BUT NOW, we have moved into our own little slice of Santa Barbara and it has this lovely little space for a real live garden:

Isn’t she beautiful?  (And by “Isn’t she beautiful?” I mean, “Can’t you see the potential?”)

So in honor of our g-space that we will be spending the year soil-amending, I will leave with you a summation of my many years of theoretical composting research for the day when we would have something to put the compost in.  Happy rotting kitchen scraps!


BROWN (carbon, dry, often stocky and coarse, 3 parts to 1 green)

  • Dry leaves, grass, woody stocks, chopped up twigs, etc.
  • Paper products (shredded), newspaper, TP, phone books, etc.
  • Brown paper bags, shredded cardboard, TP rolls, egg cartons,
  • Dryer lint
  • Wood ash (not too much)
  • Sawdust
  • Pine needles (not too much)
  • Old natural fiber clothes (wool, cotton, etc.)

GREEN (nitrogen & protein, often soft and wet, 1 part to 3 brown)

  • Coffee grounds (schedule a weekly pick-up at your local coffee shop)
  • Kitchen scraps
  • Eggshells, feathers, veggie manure
  • Grass clippings
  • Human hair (one of the benefits of DIY haircutting!)
  • Seaweed (soak to remove excess salt)

COMPOST ACTIVATORS (sprinkle between greens & browns)

  • Coffee grounds
  • Urine!  (My son loves this one.)
  • Sugary liquid
  • Finished compost


  • Put a bug zapper over your compost pile or chicken coop.
  • Have regular compost paper shredding parties.
  • Before you wash your food processor/blender, run your kitchen scraps through so they will break down more quickly.
  • Check with your city/county for free mulch/wood chip pick-ups or deliveries.
  • Check on craigslist for free or cheap horse manure options.

BONUS:  Enjoy this wonderful (& free) gardening documentary called “Back to Eden.”  (Scroll to the bottom.)  It is interesting, informative and one of my faves…

Anything to add, fellow composters?

3 thoughts on “The Great Compost List

  1. How inspiring! My first compost was me putting stuff in a garbage can with a lid – it was a dismal,, disgusting, soupy failure which hubbie gladly disposed of for me after several months. Lately I’ve been putting my kitchen scraps under our dead avocado leaves, but I have no idea what is going on down there. The fruit flies seem happy! 🙂 So now I will actually have a little knowledge under my belt for the compost pile of my dreams! Thanks Melanie.

  2. Pingback: Coconut (Kefir) Soda | Shesourceful

  3. Pingback: Life Hacks with Food Scraps | Shesourceful

What say you?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s