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How to Compost Greens

By Barbara Fahs ; Updated September 21, 2017

Greens such as lettuce and spinach are among the fastest plant materials to break down in your compost pile. They are well-suited to composting in a worm bin as well because the worms thrive on these tender morsels, and they will help to produce the worm castings you will use later to nourish your plants. Neither the regular compost pile or the worms will mind if you give them wilted, rotting greens. If the greens have salad dressing on them, that’s also fine. These scraps will biodegrade into a nutritious fertilizer for your garden.

Composting Greens

Cut the leaves from both leaf and head lettuce when you first bring it home from the farmer’s market or grocery store. You can send the “stump” to your compost pile or worm bin immediately—there’s no need to chop it up. Wash your lettuce leaves and store them wrapped in a kitchen towel inside a plastic bag to keep them fresh in your refrigerator. Do the same for spinach, cabbage and other greens.

Send wilted greens to the compost bin when you can no longer eat them. Because greens decompose so rapidly, you needn’t cut them into smaller pieces. Simply spread them on top of the materials that are in your compost pile or worm bin. You can spade them into the mix or add a layer of dried plant material on top of them.

Compost leftover salads by dumping them into your compost pile or worm bin when they are no longer edible. Tomatoes, cucumbers and other ingredients are suitable additions to compost piles in addition to the greens.

Trim off insect-damaged or yellowing leaves from your cabbage, lettuce, spinach and other greens in the garden. Them add them to your compost pile or worm bin.

Compost all green plant materials, such as the leaves you prune from a tree. If they are large leaves, chop them up with garden clippers to make them break down faster. Alternate layers of fresh, green plant parts with dried, dead plant parts for the best success in creating compost.


Things You Will Need

  • Lettuce and other greens
  • Compost pile or worm bin
  • Spading fork
  • Dry plant material
  • Green leaves from trees and other plants
  • Garden clippers


  • If you go compost crazy, you could collect leftover greens from supermarkets or restaurants and use them to quickly build up your compost pile. Perhaps your neighbors would be willing to donate their rotting greens to your project as well.

About the Author


Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hi'iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Fahs wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens" and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to "Big Island Weekly," "Ke Ola" magazine and various websites. She earned her Bachelor of Arts at University of California, Santa Barbara and her Master of Arts from San Jose State University.