12 Things Not to Put in Your Permaculture Compost Pile – REGENERATIVE.com

12 Things Not to Put in Your Permaculture Compost Pile

Compost is one of the permaculture gardener’s most potent tools. It recycles “waste” from the garden and the home and turns it into a material rich in nutrients, which soils benefit from immensely. Composting essentially means the decomposition of organic matter by enzymes and microorganisms. This decomposition releases nutrients from the material that, once the compost is added to the soil, become available for plants and soil organisms to use. There are lots of different things that you can put into your compost pile, including vegetables and fruit scraps from the kitchen, prunings, leaf litter and grass clippings from the garden, and even dead animals.

Tea and Coffee Bags
Coffee grounds and tealeaves definitively have a place in a permaculture garden. They are useful additions to the compost pile, adding generous amounts of phosphorous and potassium – two elements essential to plants – as well as to worm farms. However, coffee grounds and tealeaves must only be used in compost if they are “bag less.” The bags that some coffee and tea products come in do not break down rapidly in a permaculture compost pile, and can contain chemicals you don’t want in your soil.

Citrus Peel and Onions
While fruit and vegetables scraps from the kitchen are some of the fundamental inputs into a home compost pile, there are two exceptions: citrus peel and onions. The acidity in these can kill worms and other microorganisms, limiting the effectiveness of the decomposition.

Dog and Cat Droppings
Many types of manure make excellent additions to compost piles. Horse, cow, and chicken droppings, for example, will add nutrients and organic matter that will benefit the soil. However, it is not advisable to add the excreta from dogs and cats to your compost. Their droppings are likely to contain parasites that you do not want to introduce to plants from which you will be eating. The same goes for human excreta. If you do want to make use of these waste products, you must process them separately from your organic pile, and only use the resulting permaculture compost on non-food crops.

Fish and Meat
It is recommended that you don’t add fish and meat scraps from your kitchen to the compost pile. This is not because they contain detrimental elements or inhibit microorganism activity, but rather that their presence will act like a magnet for “vermin” who will ransack the compost to eat them. Rats, mice and foxes will seek out such morsels, as well as neighboring cats.

Glossy Magazines
It can be tempting to consider all paper products as potential material for the compost pile. After all, they all come from trees, don’t they? And newspaper is a well-regarded provider of compost and mulch. However, paper that has been treated with inorganic substances is not suitable for a compost pile. Glossy magazines, for example, have these inks on their pages.

Most kinds of plastic are not biodegradable. This means that not only do they have no place in a compost pile, but also we should minimize our use of them throughout our lives. Waste plastic is a major reason why valuable space is used for landfills, and is a significant threat to marine life in the oceans. Indeed, as well as large “drifts” of plastic items in the seas, the plastic breaks down under sunlight to tiny toxic particles that end up in the guts of fish and other crustaceans, and potentially from there into the human food chain.

Fruit Stickers
Sticky labels on fruit are one of the most common plastic-coated items that can end up in compost piles. Try to ensure you remove stickers from fruit scraps when you take them from the kitchen to the compost pile.

Coal Fire Ash
The ash from coal fires should not be added to your compost pile, as it can make the soil excessively sulfuric. Plants, like all living things, need some sulfur in order to develop healthy cells and protein. However, too much sulfur in the soil can cause a build-up of salts, which can kill plants.

Sawdust from Treated Woods
While sawdust from untreated, natural woods can be a beneficial addition to compost (it is particularly effective if you are looking to increase potassium levels in the soil), if the wood has been treated with any kind of varnish or paint, you should avoid adding the sawdust to your compost pile. These inorganic compounds won’t break down in the composting process and can leach into the soil, negatively affecting microorganism activity. These coatings also mean that it is difficult for organisms and bacteria within the compost pile itself to get to the wood underneath, meaning that the treated sawdust takes a very long time to break down, delaying when you can use your compost on the garden.

Artificial Fertilizer
As all good permaculture gardeners know, organic fertilizer is the best way of feeding your soil the nutrients it needs while remaining in tune with nature. In contrast, artificial fertilizers introduce inorganic elements into the ecosystem. While such fertilizers may provide nutrients that plants need, the temptation to add artificial fertilizers to your compost to five it a “boost” should be resisted. The form in which said nutrients are provided is not natural, meaning that they are not in tune with the ecosystem as a whole. Compounds in artificial fertilizers, such as heavy metals, inevitably leach through the soil into the water table, while others can upset the balance of chemicals in the soil, increasing salinity, evaporation and deterioration. Stick to natural, organic materials for your compost pile to avoid upsetting the balance of nature.

permaculture compostTins and Metal Objects
These objects simply take a very long time to break down, and you don’t want to be waiting years for your compost to be useable.

Large Branches
Garden waste is a primary component of good organic compost on most permaculture sites. However, it is advisable to make sure prunings and branches are only added to the compost pile in small bits. Large branches will simply slow the process down considerably. It may be a little extra work to cut down your branches for the compost pile, but you’ll reap the rewards of rich, valuable compost much sooner.


Exactly! I love how composting and worm farms close an important loop in the chain of life….


nice comment…Loop in the Chain of Life


Adding fish bones, are really good for creating a biodynamic soil. With turning the compost I don’t see vermin as a large problem. As far as Oranges and onions, the alkali nature of the soil will neutralize the acidity. Also if you’re arguing against tea and coffee bags and filters, then paper composting, other than glossy magazines, should be avoided as well, wouldn’t you say?

Annaliees Rhavella weed!

Jay Meehan

I have a Permaculture degree but at this moment I don’t have any space to work with.

Use rabbit manure! heck with the other plant base stuff.

oh no! I’ve been loading mine with citrus peel!! Dang it!

duhhhhh no brainers

Michelle Granbery

Is it possible to have a compost during 0 degree weather?

This Certified Permaculturalist’s most powerful tool would be a team of willing people to do all the work … but that wouldn’t be any fun!

Next thing you know you will be pitching Aquaponics too.

And what nimrod is putting tin cans in their compost pile?

Right so no metals ha good one I’ve seen seafood shells in my compost and added meat and processed foods and mine works

serioously …cans ? hahahaha. I short circuit my compost pile by putting a LOT of peelings in my front yard garden . they go right into the soil fruit gets ground up first or else it attracts rats . eek!

Some old wives tales are in this article. Look up thermophilic composting and you can find out a lot about the composting process. All meat, citrus and any animal excretions are actually good for your compost pile as long as your compost goes through the correct processes. The Humanure handbook is a in depth book on what is actually going on in a compost pile


I’ve never added fish, but I have added shrimp tails and crushed mussel shells. The trick with both is, not too much at once, and layer well with dirt. Dried coffee grinds also work well; I empty my french press in to a bowl, and leave it on the windowsill. Then, I store it in a paper bag, along with washed/dried/crushed eggshells. When the bag gets full, I dump it on the pile. Works great as an odour controller.


I have a thick black plastic sealed compost bin that sits in the full Queensland sun. It gets HOT in there. Citrus peel, onion skins, meat, all goes in. It all breaks down so quickly. Grows great tomatoes. Avocado skins… forget it, they last forever.


What was not mentionend in the article: don´t put flowering weeds or for example tomatoes in your compost. Some of those seeds will germinate when you will use the produced soil. And this can be a pain in the ass!

This of course only happens when compost temperature is to low (to destroy seeds). And that can happen very easily.

If it has lived, it goes in!

had no idea about onions! Glad to know

Evan T Spurrell



I agree with Jason Davison. Yes, some of these things shouldn’t be in a compost pile, but onions, citrus, coffee grounds, teabags & coffee filters do just fine. Look up Keyhole Gardens – tin, cardboard, bones, etc are used as a base for this – essentially a LARGE, non-stirred compost pile.

I’ve successfully composted dead animals on the farm and some years later? Sorted out the bones and used the rich, gorgeous compost. Bones are great to lay across your garden beds to deter cats.

I agree with glossy magazines, plastics and such. Better to recycle them as they NEVER break down to your advantage. As weed barriers/deterrents though? Excellent.

Large branches are excellent for hugelkulturs. And trellising. And cat/dog deterrents (laid across your beds or compost bins). Also as windbreaks or woven together as screening materials. I’ve seen some absolutely innovative and lovely fences made out of entwined branches. Also, some of your branches (do a search) impart wonderful flavor to your grilled foods when added to your coals/fire.

I don’t compost dog and cat manure but participate in humanure composting. Dog and cat require LONG composting (as does human) to break down pathogens and render the pathogens inert.

Happy composting! Make hugelkulturs, Keyhole gardens and GROW!!!

As a Master Gardner & Ornamental Horticulturalist, I agree with MOST of this article. But I have to say a BIG NO.. to your “even dead animals” statement in that intro! Both Texas A&M AND Cornell Ag. would totally disagree with you on that one, for the exact same reason why you don’t “add fish or meats” to your compost bin. ( same goes with vegetable food scraps cooked in oils or butter!) Also..grass clippings are great to add as long as oils from machinery are not in contact with the grass. You don’t want that to leach into the composting material…just like the citrus & onion oils. We all know how important it is to maintain a healthy environment for “vermiculture” to help with in the whole composting process.

Philip Hopkins

Depends on the method of composting and goal.


You can compost anything organic. Period. http://humanurehandbook.com/downloads/Chapter_3.pdf

Never have had problems with citrus and onions breaking down in a compost pile. Even if it slowed the process a little bit, it’s better than the landfill.

Citrus and onions are fine in my compost since our soils are alkaline the acidity is no problem.

NO Food Scraps -unless u dont mind roaches n mice,etc

This is a typical problem with articles like this … it assumes that there is but only one way to make compost.
I’ve been doing “slow-rot” composting for decades and would never leave out my citrus, onions, teabags, or especially my chicken bones.
And for those that have a place with enough room, even greasy food can be “composted” … it will attract flies which lay eggs and the larva(maggots) will break-down all the fatty substances.
Maybe that is more of a biodegrading than composting, but to imply or state that these items are only suitable for a landfill is misleading if not clearly false.

Ridiculous! My compost is mostly kitchen/food scraps, been doing it this way, and perfecting it, for almost 40 years.


I wondered about putting onions, garlic and citrus into my worm bins and just recently paid extra attention to how the worms react to it. Every bucket of scraps from the kitchen that I feed them has at least some onions and garlic scrap, and occasionally citrus rinds- we usually save them to make citrus oil for cleaning. I have always noticed that the citrus peels were the last to be eaten and broken down. Maybe keeping enough alkaline scraps helps balance out the ph? If it is an issue, it doesnt seem severe, Im always amazed at how many worms are in there as well as how fast they eat up scraps. Last week I put the scraps from several pineapple peelings, some kale that went bad, egg shells, coffe grinds and biodegradable teabags…a week later it all about gone. I was curious about the pineapple for the same reasons as citrus. Theyre really tough, we had a hard freeze for several days, loads of rain….theyre still squirming and chowing down.

the two feet of snow on my compost pile is going to slow things down, for sure!

I have citrus and onions in mine as well. I do get concerned about too much acid but hope the small amount will be ok.


I actually knew about all of these except the onions/onion peels. I compost with vermiculture and have kept the same worms and worm bin for over four years now. I have to admit that at least a quarter of the food waste that is fed to my worms is onion peels and ends, and it has never had a detrimental affect on my worms.

By the hugeness of the worms in my compost pile last fall I am guessing it is good stuff. I had one that was about 6 inches long and 1/2 inch or so thick. The biggest one I have ever seen in Wisconsin.

yeah, that’s right about all but the citrus and onions. worms are just fine with that, especially out here in the more basic soil West.

So glad I read this! I had no idea about the citrus peels and onion skins. Sorry worms!


Once again you are ignoring the fact that not everyone’s soil is like yours. Where I live it is seriously alkaline and sulfur deficient as well. Your blanket advice to lime the soil would be really counterproductive for me…..

George Miles

I’m not doing too bad, then. But the mice showed up *before* i put meat scraps in there. On the bright side, they aerate the pile nicely.

I can’t believe that you need to tell people about not using something like plastic in a compost, that is an indictment of the public education system

I just signed up,yeah buddy

I disagree about adding dead animals. No meat scraps, no “fat” Just plant material, paper, things like that.

we can compost cat shit if we do it properly. Human pooh, too… but I wouldn’t put meat in the short turn pile. Composting is an art. I highly recommend reading this book ..

Unless your compost is already very heavy on the nitrogen side, ADD meat. The large bones may not break down quickly, but that’s okay. Sure you might get some visitors to the compost pile – usually not of major concern. Composting dead animals is VERY commonplace throughout the Permaculture community…

The first 4 of these are nonsense. I regularly compost these items without issue.

I have two humanure piles right now, with temperatures ranging between 120 – 145 degrees throughout the process. I put every piece of plant and animal matter (except cat poop) into it. The heat, and those heat-living bacteria, make mincemeat out of anything put in there. It’s so hot that rodents won’t move in, and neither will most insects. Go humanure!

lv my compost

We do put orange rinds in our compost pile here in Belize-in fact the best compost we can find locally is made from orange rinds since oranges are grown everywhere here. It does take a lot of other organic matter added to break them down and the pile must be turned frequently but it is great for the extreme clay soil we have here. We also put in giant grubs that help to break everything down-they are thumb sized or bigger and gross me out totally but you will find them in the best dark black organic soil here. Maybe the heat and humidiity allow it all to work differently than our compost in the high desert of Oregon.

Oregon, god’s country. Maybe some day I’ll move back there.

There is, however, a safer way to compost meat (including fish) and dairy without leaving it open to wild animals (“vermin”? Really?). It’s possible to obtain an electric composter you can use indoors. It keeps your scraps at an even temperature, which is even more important with composting animal stuff: wild animals are not the only problem here. Uneven composting can lead to a much more unpleasant smell than if you’re just breaking down plant matter.

Here’s an example of an electric composter, and there are other models if you Google it.


Loved the movie “Occupy the Farm”

Compost piles are no different than throwing the ingredients on the ground. Most compost piles don’t produce enough material for even a small graden. A properly constructed compost pile will generate too much heat for most insects and i consider them more important that any compost pile. If you have the opportunity to build large piles, it can be useful. Typically material will decompose into about two percent of its original volume.


i compost in place—i just strew it on top of my veggie bed that is vacant & throw some leaves or other mulch or composted poop on top and let it compost in place!! no shoveling, no turning, no tilling!! easy peasy!

Zahir Quint

took a great workshop with an Elder some years back who taught us how to build our compost so that you never have to turn it! brown, green, scraps, i.e. dead leaves etc. (brown), grass clippings etc. (green), veggie scraps. Easiest yet!

Looks like my pit!!

ha, don’t give advice.

I break almost all these rules and have made thousands of pounds of high grade compost. Loose the obstacles, you will never get anywhere you’re not father nature. Too many “Green” people are too busy worrying about what “not” to do. I have 2 squirrels and a vole in mine. Quit being babies. learn about nutrients. That is what you need there…nutrient. and you are not going to get it with leaves and grass and coffes grounds.

Corn cobs.

Grass and leaves

No – no dead animals. Who said that?!? Meat spoils good compost.

citrus, but I didn’t know that onion peels were a no-no.

Beth Omeara

I throw anything organic in mine and have wonderful compost. I don’t turn it, water it, pray over it, sing to it, or worry about it. If it needs to cook longer than normal then it can cook as long as it wants. I do cover it in the summer but only to keep the weeds from growing all over it. I have three horses so I have more than one compost pile.

Some of the best animal manure is from the camelids…alpacas and llamas. It can be used as is actually because it is so well processed by the critters, but it’s an excellent addition to a composting set up.


I don’t compost. I have one garden where all of the plant material, grass clipping and leaves is spread over the garden. All the left over pumpkins, gourds, tomato plants, corn stalks, etc. ends up there. In the spring I part the plant material and begin planting. I save and germinating seeds that look interesting.

I didn’t know about onions…better change my ways.

My compost is always being raided by cows, horses, not to mention birds and rodents.

Don’t add spent tomato plants because diseases on these can be transmitted to the new compost soil. Grass clippings are fine and dandy AS LONG AS the grass has not been treated with selective herbicides used to kill weeds. But with grass clippings, remember that they are often full of grass and weed seeds which often will sprout in the new compost soil. Perfect compost can kill any seeds, but most compost does not cook these seeds and they are ready to sprout in your new application.

What a good resource!

i got worms too

You can use larger sticks and branches in hugelculture

Dead animals?

Lisa Holland – your input?

Hi Sharon, You can learn how to correctly make compost from ‘Permaculture Composting with Paul Taylor’. Paul explains the importance of creating healthy soil as the foundation to all life,
Also, Paul Stamets of Micellium Running has a great TED Talk, 6 ways mushrooms can save the world’.
Both Paul’s are great!!!

I use skunky beer and the pour-outs from leftover drinks (alcoholic or non-) after guests are at my house. I also pour out lacto-ferments (dairy or not) that go funky, and my pile seems to thrive with this. I put citrus peels and onions in my piles regularly, and meat/fat on occasion. I don’t use carnivore manure, but other than that and the plastic/labels I’ve broken virtually every rule listed. But yet when I moved my piles to another location, my old piles and the soil underneath LOADED with mycorhhizal hyphae, almost a foot deep in some spots. I’d say that means my pile was doing quite well, thank you very much. Of course, I cold compost, so perhaps my piles are much more forgiving?

And I can’t remember ever seeing a rat in my pile, despite the occasional bit of meat or fish offal. Of course, they’d have to compete with the very frequent presence of poultry scratching around in there, and I think they really prefer the easier pickings of spilt grain in the barn.

Debra Francis

Thanks for the info. Your never to smart or to old to learn something new.

I have been experimenting by first planting early crops of peas and broad beans. Once they are harvested, I do not pull the plants out of the ground, but do cut the tops off at the surface, and relegate the tops to the compost mound. Directly over the root ball left in the ground, I plant my tomato plants. I’ve noticed that the tomatoes are growing beautifully, and do not need a supplementary feeding until after the first crop of fruit is growing well. I’m wondering if the nitrogen captured and encapsulated by the beans’ and peas’ root nodules is being released to the tomato plants? I do know this, no arguing with success, which is what this experiment has shown.

Didn’t think of citrus and onion.

don’t believe everything you read!


Citrus and onions (and garlic) are fine in moderation. These are items that some worms do not tolerate as easily. Other items include papaya and pineapple, because the enzymes may not be beneficial for the worms. Just about anything organic (stay away from carnivore/herbivore feces) should be fine in moderation. A compost full of diverse inputs is best.
Check out the Berkeley method of composting for a nice/usable compost in about three weeks!

If you dig up one of your broad bean root balls you should be able to see the nitrofying nodules on the roots. They will appear as tiny while globules on the fine roots. If you don’t see any, they may still be some there, but it could also mean that in order to process nitrogen, your legume crops need inoculation. Many seed companies either sell pre-innoculated seed or will have packets of the innoculant needed to sow in your soil with the crop. The other possibility could be a low ph resulting in the soil being too acidic. On my farm I rely on crop rotations, as well as captured manure from the draft animals, to supply the nitrogen needed for other crops. In a good year, an acre of Alfalfa grown for hay can produce over 300 pounds of nitrogen as well as several tons of hay. My draft mules produce over fifty pounds of manure and urine a day or close to 15 tons per animal per year. This is composted with the bedding and spread back on the fields as well and is making the need for chemical fertilizers unnecessary. Every third year the alfalfa is plowed under and followed with a row crop and any residue in the form of organic matter from that crop is plowed back under. We also try to feed hay out in the winter. When not fed in the barn on bad days, we try to pasture cattle on the fields where the hay was cut so that the organic matter is returned to soil from which it came. Using these practices I’ve seen hay yield double every year for the first 6 years on a run down hill side farm! And not one drop of costly fertilize added!

Love TED talks. They are typically so informative and interesting.

If we should move, I told my husband that I am packing up that compost pile in trash bags and hauling it with us!

When I moved three years ago I had to leave my compost and all those lovely worms. Composting is fun and yes, it can become wonderfully obsesive.

this isn’t a very good guide. you can put a majority of the stuff in your compost as long as you keep it balanced

I think onions are fine to compost. The acidity breaks down as the process goes ahead. I have been composting them for years.

Nestor Fernandez

corn cobs take years to break down, and winter ssquash insides are not a good choice as the squash seeds stay viable and your garden will be full of random squash plants.

1. More tea and coffee bags are starting to be made of unbleached muslin and paper which are fine for compost piles. Just be aware of which ones you are using. 2. If you put a lot of wood ash into your compost, the citrus peels and onions are fine to go with it. Even without the wood ash, Citrus peels generally harden and take so long to break down that they are not going to harm a compost pile. They’ll just be one of those things that are there for a very long time. However, another good way to use the citrus peels is in vodka or moonshine or vinegar to make citrus scented items. You can also use them around the base of houseplants to deter cats. 3. If you use an enclosed compost pile, like a bokashi or a closed tumbler, or the enclosed tower composters, go ahead and use meat, fish, dairy, etc…to your hearts content. Even grease and oils get worked in quite well if you have enough other greens and browns in there to mix it up. An open compost pile, well…It’s your choice, but if you do not have local scavengers, then yes, you will notice a smell, and if you do not hide the meats in the center of the pile you will get a lot of maggots. If you do have scavengers, like rats, raccoons, opossums…etc…it will definately attract them as well. And if you have bears…well…just don’t do that. 4. Large branches are fantastic for compost piles. Put them, stacked up in a loose grid back and forth into the area where your pile will be, and as the compost fills up, remove the branches, from the bottom, and restack on the top. This turns, sifts, and aerates the compost easily and effectively, breaking down those large branches which eventually should crumble into large spongy chunks, perfect for helping keep the soil structure intact. Superfine compost turns into rock hard crust if not mixed with chunky crumb.

Misplaced plants of any type, become mulch in my garden…Bring on the squash seed….LOL..

All living or once living things “rot”..= compost..;)


There is no problem in adding onion peals to compost pile.

Gotta’ keep turning them….

I compost citrus and onions and have for years. Zero problems. My pile is pretty hot and I sift my compost before use and through any big pieces (I also put chopped wood, etc in) back in the pile for more time.

I’ll be doing composting toilets on my new property. Read the Humanure Handbook. I’m also going to do an experimental compost pile for dog waste and see how that cooks down. That will be reserved for use on our wood lot, but if it works it will further eliminate waste from our property.

This looks like my compost bin….only I made it double. That way it’s easy to turn!


I use Bokashi composting for all my food scraps including dairy, meat, , bones, fat etc. as well as citrus and onions. When I have added animal products and the bokashi is ready, I will digg it right into my garden and have no problems with animals digging it up. When I have no animal products in my bokashi compost I will feed it to my worm bin. They have no problem with the fermented citrus and onions. They actually love it.

The garden waste will go on my compost pile and will be turned once a year to make place for the new “crop”. I plant potatoes in it and squashes. The leaves are used as a mulch for my vegetable garden in the fall to keep it covered. Great “food” that will enhance my beds.

I am now looking into using worm composting right into my garden.


Is it really truly safe (and organic) to compost newspaper, cardboard, paper, etc. that has ink on it? My understanding is that many inks are either heavy metal based or soy based and you don’t want heavy metals in your compost and with the soy inks, most soy is GMO so you’d still be contaminating your compost with residual GMOs. Thoughts? Does composting negate these issues? Or do I continue avoiding inks in order to remain purely organic and reduce toxic load in the food I’m growing?

I didn’t even consider the bags of the tea.. I throw my tea bag right into the compost. I’ll have to check the materials. Thanks!

8 of those are so common sense and I dont even garden but always good to inform

Oups! I will stop to put in oignon and citrus peel…
Thank you! <3

I will disagree with you about the citrus and onion peels. I have been putting them in my pile for many years and have huge worms, up to a foot long! They seem to have dealt with the citrus and onion peels effectively and I think it is a way better place for the peels than in the trash. Silly.

I agree with you Joy. If nothing else, citrus peels are also good for cleaning garbage disposals. Drops some peels down the sink, turn on the water, and flip the switch. Instant degreaser.

No disposal necessary since I have a compost pile. 🙂

I also put plenty of citrus and onions in my pile and it works just fine.

Fish parts are actually really benificial for your composte. If your bin is rodent proof there shouldnt be any issues.

My grandfather always put all the onion peels into his compost; he had great compost and used it in his vegetable garden.

I’m so glad I read this, I will stop composting my milk containers and bake bean cans immediately!

I have so many worms in my garden… In fact I’ve never seen so many in my life. I throw citrus peel and onion skins in my compost and have for 8 years.

I put fish citrus and onions in my compost and have the most worms I’ve ever seen. I live in the country and occasionally birds shop in my compost but I am glad to have them stirring it for me lol

Worked when I lived on the west coast. Waste of time in Calgary

Annaliees Rhavella

Good call. I’m going to stop with the onions and citrus peel. Thanks for the info!

Dia Blaschke

I’m so glad all you folks comment that you do it anyway. I’ve been afraid to for the last 2 years, but I hate wasting material! So I’m gonna start putting them in.

Even if you don’t have a bin, you can simply bury meat of any kind about 1 foot deep and it won’t attract rodents or create stench. It takes longer to decompose.. About 1 full year, unless you advance with bokashi fermentation first

This is old information, and at least one thing is wrong. Fish and even other meats simply need to be buried at least 1 foot deep to keep vermin away (just make sure your dog doesn’t have access to the area), and it won’t even putrefy as you’ve stopped airflow by burying it, causing only anaerobic bacteria to break it down. As for plastics, check with the company who made your product to determine the method for making the plastic. Modern day plastics are more often than not, a corn by product since it’s cheaper than oil based. Almost all kinds of plastic types can be made with corn, and are. If they are, they’ll biodegrade in 5 years or less.. Many in 6 months. If you grind them up and feed them to composting red wiggler worms, they’ll break down within weeks

Composting is much faster with red worms! http://Www.gawigglers.com

But not the permaculturist method.

Rebekah Borucki

What if there’s a stray cat that uses my garden as a litter box? Should I not eat my veggies from this garden?

Robin McCrary Bannon Cari Bannon

Human body parts are probably a no-no, don’t you think?

It makes for harmful microorganisms

Throw it all in…
If it rots its all good….

I love doing worm composting and think of my red wiggler as part of my family

Not if there’s the right amount of airflow. Why would there be fish composte if that were the case?

Your going to want to remove the top few inches of soil if you plan on growing anything edible. I just dealt with this, this past season. Had to erect a fence around the garden after to keep them out.

Mike Dollarhide

If its finely mulched why not?

Started mine this summer

I like this page. Started home gardening and farming recently. I tried reading this post and when I clicked on it I got a message that said I had exceeded my monthly clicks.
Sup w that admin??

My nephew did a science fair experiment where he tested which red worms ate fastest: onions, oranges, or tomatoes. It was onions, tomatoes then oranges from fastest to slowest. I don’t feed usually my worms citrus peels though. I dry them in my oven and use them as potpourri.

You can add dinner let overs. It is heatly.

I put onions and citrus in my backyard compost (always have) and it’s beautiful. I believe this particular warning is more prevalent in Vermiculture (worm composting).

I’ll compost anything!! Don’t stand still too long, I may compost you!!!

I love seeing the new volunteer plants!

I will try my first compost this coming summer ! I have this in mind for a while but never try it so far.

I made a vermicompost bin. Much faster than hot compost and it works even in the winter. I go from scraps to fertilizer in 4-6 weeks.

Marianne Burns

Kyle Middleton

Not so sure if I want to try it

Carla Pereira mostra ao sogro camilo;)


I once witnessed squirrels taking the donuts from a tossed box of a dozen up a tall skinny tree to where they staked out a homestead. The donuts were always clutched by their teeth (must have really been stale) and they were straight out in front of their faces with the holes facing either side. Adorable.

Nick Dupuis

I’ve been putting citrus and onions in my pile for years and have millions of worms. It all gets eaten. By the way, composting and worm bedding are 2 different processes.

Bananas and veggies all the way!

No coal fire ash. But what about ash from a camp fire?

The neighbors.

didn’t know about the citrus peel and onions, thanks

It is now against the law in Seattle to mix compost and trash. The penalties are steep.

I have no problems with citrus peels or onions. Or meat. It’s compost. I honestly don’t care if cats or raccoons dig through it. If they want to turn it for me, great. Also, I do some hugelkultur, so large branches are in what is essentially a growing compost pile, where they break down over years. It really depends on how fast you want your scraps to turn into dirt. It really doesn’t hurt tossing scraps directly on your garden beds, it just takes longer to break down.

We just got a compost bin, so this is a timely article.

Your site, while well-intentioned, generally sucks. You need better writers.


My dad never used mulch, didn’t believe in it

My husband & I have been composting for a couple of years. We use black plastic garbage cans with holes drilled in the sides. Works great and doesn’t smell. But we don’t put in any meat. Between composting and recycling, we’re lucky if we generate one bag of garbage a month!

here in So California, we put citrus peels in our compost, and often lots of it at a time when we juice for preservation and as far as I’ve ever seen, not a problem what so ever!

was it hard to make?

I dug holes in an unsued flower bed for 11 years. One foot deep, composting all materials that were once alive, everything, including hair. Compost not intended for edible gardening. Worked great, no pest. We’d find the most ginormous earth worms in there!

We have been composting for years. We have two bins. Each takes two years to fill . While one is filling the other is breaking down. When I empty and sift the compost I usually get about 150 wheelbarrows full of compost. I will be turning this Spring.

It was pretty easy, actually. I got the wood for free in the form of old (untreated) pallets, and it’s held up 2.5 years so far.
The hardest part was using the somewhat damaged salvaged wood, and I recently had to go back and make it rat-proof by eliminating leaks around the edges.

Bummer… I did not know that citrus peel was not a good thing in composting.

Citrus peels and onions have never hurt compost piles that I have seen

Hobbz Knobz

My parents ate squirrel during the Great Depression. The police used to hunt them and the poor families would go down to the station and get them, skin them and there’s dinner!

The trouble with adding the dead animals would be the tiny skulls looking up at you from the lettuce patch.

Surprised about citrus peel and onions.

YES! Shared

Permaculture? More like Parmaculture… You see what i did there Dan Gerous?

This is also called “lasagne gardening”. One Community: For The Highest Good of All

No dead animals. UGH! Asking for problems with that addition. NO MEAT no meat by products.

Nathan, Tugce. Check it.

Oh trish this for you good one im gonna work that dirt this year

Ash from a camp fire is good especially for a small handful on peonies the ash contains many good nutrients

Thanks Rich! I have peonies.

I compost everything except meat. I don’t have a lot of that around anyway. I’m vegan. But citrus goes in. I don’t like to put any of my veggie scraps into the land fill.

Samantha Claar

Victor Gomez

Is that highly time consuming?

Blaise Jansen

Haven’t had s problem with citrus or onion…and large cuttings will root nicely in a compost bin-then pull out and plant.

Great info!

No meat. Period. No issues with onions or citrus.
Use your fireplace ash for you garden walkways. Helps kill off weeds.

Composts Have used them since I was a kid… Get good worms for fishing too;-) that’s if ya like fish …

Been composting for a couple of years – our ground here is pretty depleted, plus we got tired of sending good stuff that could enrich the soil into the dump instead. I didn’t know about the citrus peels and onions. I’ll stop putting those in. Thanks for the heads up!

I love composting and started back in the 1980’s…..I put citrus and onion skins in mine and my pile is alive with creatures. Though I don’t overload it with these ingredients and it is seasonal

I would think that the sawdust should exclude that from pressure treated lumber (chemicals) as well as the obviously painted wood.


But it’s OK to put cooked food with oils??? I don’t think so!!

Jenny do you compost?

Honestly if citrus peels are one then you can use them for other projects around the house like making DIY cleaners and room fragrances etc.

Not anymore. Too stinky and buggy for our house and yard.

Agreed 🙂 I do reuse the veggies though by making broths and in stocks. Then it’s tossed.

No, I let it stack up in my kitchen.

I have found that unbleached coffee filters compost well.

Bobby we’re doing it wrong

I always use y onion and citrus peels in our compost.lots of worms in there so perhaps it’s because I don’t over load on them

Kirsten Macy! You were always right about the citrus peels!

Citrus peels and onions are not a problem in my compost pile either. I have a huge pile with lots of horse manure, its open air so I never add things that the dogs will try to eat. No bread, no meat etc. Lots of yard debris too. Then I turn with a tractor.

didn’t know about citrus peels and onions.

I ad chicken poop and straw to mine too!

Chris Seitz

Only 1 of 12 I do add onion and citrus peels. Hell.

Didn’t know about the lime. Good to know and I even has some. Thanks for the info

Jenny Anderson

So what your saying is I should stop throwing my dogs shit over the fence in my neighbors garden ? Well if it’s that bad then I guess his roof will work.

If your compost pile is stinky, it’s not functioning properly (probably anaerobic). A healthy cooking compost pile smells earthy and good.

Darlene Maselli Donna Palutis Maselli

From the second floor I throw my coffee filters out of the lawn but my wife gets very upset

Who knew. Don’t add citrus peels nor onions to the compost.

Autumn Earhart Meagan Clare

Some of this information is garbled. The problem with glossy magazines, for instance, has nothing to do with the fact that the paper is treated with inorganic substances.

The paper is smooth because it’s been fed through high-pressure rollers and the spaces between the fibers are filled with either kaolin (white porcelain, used in antidiarrhea medicine) or calcium carbonate (the active ingredient in a lot of antacids). Nothing dangerous about that.

The brief mention of inks is more on-target. The risk in using glossy paper is from the heavy metals that may be used in some colored inks. While inorganic does not equal danger, heavy metals do.

Of course, there are a lot more newspapers using colored inks these days, and I don’t know whether newspaper inks would contain heavy metals too. If they do, then those pages would be just as risky as magazine pages.

While you would obviously be avoiding all danger of heavy metal poisoning if you don’t use paper with colored inks, it’s worth investigating how much of a risk they would actually pose. I don’t know what quantities would be involved, or how much would be taken up and incorporated into garden vegetables. It’s possible that the actual exposure you might get would be inconsequential, but I don’t know.


I discovered egg shells also don’t add any real value to your compost though it doesn’t hurt to add them. Another no no to consider is salad dressing. Lots of people throw in leftover salad and veggies and that is fine but if you put dressing on them, it often contains fat. So wash your veggies again before composting if you added dressing.

Onions are fine, and citrus peels are ok if you only add a few

Timothy Alrashedy

Tony Curi

Thermal paper and duplicate forms are actually a hazardous waste due to the chemical soup. They should not go into mixed paper stream. According to EPA enforcement, the belong in a capped landfill.

We put waste produced by our chickens, fruit and veggie scraps, yard waste, also waste from a hamster and a guinea pig. We have greatly reduced out waste. Trying to do more reusing then recycling though.

We recycle magazines, newspaper ads, but newspapers themselves and paper bags we like to put that in our garden.

Devin Belle

Merrilee Hilts

Carol Cowart Hall

Gwen Schneider Hevel 😉

City of Austin’s new curbside organics collection for compost has conflicting information–the program encourages meat scraps in compost–ugh!!! Like we need more rat problems! However their recycling page contradicts this and has many of the items discouraged! What to do?!http://www.austintexas.gov/austincomposts

Want to learn these

Dara Meredith

Yes, but not with dead animals!

Jill Jeffers

Do people really have to be told this?!?! The one thing I’ll do is omit onion, but I wonder if we can stockpile them as a natural deterrent for our cute fuzzy pests. I’m going to try it! Newspaper is a great weed block, but definitely not the glossy paper.

The only thing I disagree with is not adding fertilizer. When starting your compost pile, you should add a little fertilizer because it is rich in nitrogen and it speeds up the decomposition process. Once you have it going, you don’t need to add more because it produces it’s own nigrogen more rapidly than at first.

Look Laura


Hog Wash! There’s nothing wrong with citrus and onion peels.

Joe Salling, no onions or citrus peels?!?

Lance Steven Burke

Bryan Thomaston

This summer I found a worm the size of a snake in my compost. I love digging in the dirt.

Misti Walters

Compost, compost, compost!! Worm castings added is amazing as well!!

Wilhelm Fassnacht

Bodies..do not out in bodies.

Thanks for info

Thanks. did not know about onions…

I don’t know who this supposed “Expert” is that came up with the list but the list is about 50% bogus and the other 50% is obvious……as in no plastic or metal…..well duhhhhh…… sheesh

Harry Sullivan Judy Sullivan

good reminders for new gardeners coming to composting and sustainability…

bokashi composting allows you to compost everything from dairy to meat and even bones!

Tony F. Dias

Benjamin Harrell

People you kill…. don’t put them in your compost pile!