Composting food scraps like herbs, spices, vegetables, fruits, coffee grounds, and more is an eco-friendly way to reduce waste and nourish your garden. When done correctly, composting can accelerate decomposition and provide nutrient-rich matter to improve your soil.
Many types of food scraps and organic waste can be added to a compost pile or bin. Here are some of the most common:
Both fresh and dried herbs and spices can be composted, even hot spices like chili powder. The active enzymes and oils will break down over time. Be sure not to add extremely large amounts of pungent spices.
Fruit and vegetable scraps of all kinds like peels, tops, cores and skins can be composted. Citrus peels may take longer but will break down eventually. Avoid diseased plants.
Used coffee grounds and filters add beneficial nitrogen. Old tea leaves also contain nitrogen and can be composted as well. They will decompose within a few months.
Crushed eggshells are a good source of calcium for compost and gardens. They will break down over several months, depending on the size of the pieces.
Leftover grains, breads, beans, pasta, rice and more can be composted. Cooked foods may decompose faster than raw foods. Avoid large amounts of oily, salty or processed foods.
Dead leaves, plant trimmings and grass clippings make excellent compost materials. Chop or shred them to break down faster. Avoid diseased plants.
Small amounts of plain paper, cardboard, tissues, napkins and paper towels can be added in. Shred them first and avoid glossy or coated paper.
Animal hair from brushing or grooming breaks down within a few months in the compost bin. Add in thin layers so it does not mat.
Dryer lint and dust bunnies provide carbon. Sprinkle in thin layers, avoiding chemicals, soaps or synthetic fibers.
Proper preparation of food scraps helps speed up decomposition:
Cut or tear all leftovers into smaller 1" pieces before adding them. This gives microbes more surface area to work on.
Mix and distribute diverse materials throughout the compost instead of dumping all the same scraps in one place. Blend them with carbon-rich browns.
Line bins with compostable bags or plain paper bags to collect food waste. This keeps piles neater and aids cleanup.
Excessive moisture slows down composting. Mix in dry browns like leaves or sawdust to absorb some dampness if needed.
With the right conditions, most food scraps decompose within 6 to 12 months in compost:
Tender herb leaves and stems decompose quickly within seasons. Heartier woody herbs take a little longer.
Ground spices break down faster than whole spices. Oils and flavors dissipate over time. Hot peppers lose heat but still add nutrition.
Softer fruits and veggies degrade faster than thick peels, rinds and cores, which can persist longer. Acids and sugars feed microbes.
Leaves, grounds and filters are consumed readily. Tannins and caffeine break down over months as long as piles are mixed.
Shell membranes compost within months but complete disintegration of thick, hard shells can take over a year. Crush them to speed this up.
Cooked starches like pasta, rice and baked goods get eaten quickly by fungi and bacteria in compost. Mold is common but gets outcompeted.
Clean paper breaks down faster into fiber than waxy or laminated paper. Soaking speeds decomposition. Shred or tear first.
So in summary, herbs, spices and properly prepared food scraps make excellent compost ingredients that enrich soil texture and nutrients. Blend them throughout piles with other materials for efficient, balanced decomposition. Avoid large amounts of oils or animal products and turn as needed. Then use finished compost to grow even more herbs and vegetables!
Most raw and cooked fruits, vegetables, grains and plants can be added but avoid significant meat, fat, oil or dairy scraps, which can become smelly or slimy.
No, small amounts of peppers, chili powder and other spices are fine to add and enrich soil micronutrients when finished. They may repel some insects while breaking down though.
Yes but go easy on them. Their antimicrobial oils take longer to compost and may temporarily deter beneficial soil bacteria if piles get too acidic.
Aim for pieces approximately 1 inch or smaller. This gives compost organisms much more surface area to colonize and speeds decomposition.
No, distribute ingredients evenly throughout, not just on top or bottom. Turning mixes everything together so it stabilizes at a consistent pace.
Add a similar volume of food scraps whenever you accumulate enough, along with other brown and green materials to balance moisture and nutrients.