Compost Biodiversity- Is More Better?


[Background: I'm thrilled that my chicken compost run is heating up! I have a bed of 6-8 inches of wood chips in a run that's about 10' wide and 20' long. 16 pullets and 4 chickens have access to it.

I put food scraps in one side on Thursdays and Sundays and will start turning it down the 'pipe.' I need more water on it, but two piles I'm working on are about 115 and 140 degrees F.]

Here are the materials I have for the system:

Browns: wood chips, hay, egg cartons, sawdust, cardboard boxes, shredded paper, leaves (fall)

Greens: food scraps (~25 gallons per week), grass clippings, egg shells

Here is my question:

I know there are many other things I could put in the compost-- lint, hair, some coffee grounds, leaves, old flower bouquets, etc etc etc.

Is there an advantage to having a wide variety of materials in the compost system?

That would be more work and I think I have a pretty good variety, but I thought I'd check!



  • Jens the Beekeeper
    Jens the Beekeeper Posts: 643 admin

    In general with compost the more diversity the better as it rounds out the nutrition and mineral profile in your finished compost.

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,390 admin

    Leaves are great for adding in the fall, as part of the browns. Usually there is a lot of excess garden & preserving waste in the fall so the leaves make up a good mix for all that extra green material.

    When I was a coffee drinker, grounds went into the compost.

    If you are in a coastal location seaweed is an excellent addition to compost. Its very high in some of the trace minerals that might be missing from your soil. There are some very effective commercial fertilizers on the market made from seaweed.

  • Annie Kate
    Annie Kate Posts: 680 ✭✭✭✭

    Hi @emkouma, I'm no expert, but we just keep on putting on what we can get and making layers, even if they don't follow the proper formulae. Apparently cold beds are good for nutrients as well.

    But I would never put on commercial paper/cardboard products and I would be careful with sawdust. Who knows what has gone into them? We once composted a '100% cotton' futon, and I'm still finding bits of not-cotton futon in the dirt.

  • Tave
    Tave Posts: 951 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Yes! The more, the merrier. David the Good has a free composting book on his website. He also has a more detailed book for sale. I have them both.