Plants need good soil to grow strong. Making sure the soil has a good structure and supply of nutrients is an important thing to do before planting. Plants that grow in healthy, rich soil are less prone to pests and diseases and will not need feeding once established. Creating compost is a way to recycle organic materials as well as nourish your planting soil. Not any old thing can be tossed in the composter, however, and certain things will create compost faster.
Fruit and vegetable scraps, weeds and grass cuttings all make up green matter that are great for compost. All those scraps that get shoved to the side of the cutting board when preparing meals can be tossed right into a bucket in your kitchen, which you can carry out to your composter each day. Compost should be composed of layer combinations of this soft green matter and rougher brown matter. Green matter tends to be the moistest of the types of compost items and so will speed up the rate of composting if turned frequently.
Brown matter consists of things such as leaves and brush, nonconiferous (not cone-bearing) trees and shrubs including sycamore, ash, poplar, willow, elm, lime and elder. Brown matter also includes materials such as egg cartons, cereal boxes and cardboard. These rougher materials tend to be larger than the scraps of green matter commonly tossed into the composter, and so they should be cut into small pieces. This way they will break down easier and faster. Brown matter is also useful if your compost becomes too wet, as layering extra shreds of cardboard or brush can help even out the moisture levels.
You may be surprised at certain items that will decompose with the aid of the bacteria and microorganisms in your compost, such as eggshells, tea bags, coffee grains, wood ash, wool, straw, newspaper and even old kitchen towels. It can be easy to forget the particulars and start tossing other items in there, too. But exercise caution. Though newspapers are fine, glossy newsprint or magazines are not, and though wood ash is acceptable, charcoal ash is not, for example. Do not put meat, weed seeds, moldy plants or food or any type of feces in the composter.