LiviusThere are many misconceptions about what you can and cannot compost at home. So it's time to get rid of some of it, because since the beginning of 2024 we prefer not to throw excess food into residual waste. Livios construction site We therefore consulted Vlaco, the organization responsible for quality control of composting facilities in Flanders and proper communication regarding home composting.
Coffee capsules and tea bags
“You can certainly add coffee grounds to compost, but it is better not to compost coffee capsules and tea bags,” explains Christoph van Stichlen, specialist at Vlaco. “After all, that coffee bag or tea bag often appears to be made of paper, when in fact it is mostly made of synthetic material. This does not digest. Or break down into microplastic particles that contaminate your compost and soil.
So don't compost at home. “Or you can just throw the contents of the coffee bag or tea bag into the compost. The wrapper goes with the remaining waste anyway.”
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Egg shells and shells
“Nature itself can decompose calcareous materials such as egg shells and shells, but this process is very slow. Furthermore, you are not legally allowed to compost kitchen waste that may contain animal products. Why not? Because this kitchen waste can attract animals The wild animal, which then eats them, may spread zoonotic diseases.
So don't compost at home. “Egg shells are allowed in organic waste collection. You can simply throw mussel shells, for example, into the remaining waste.
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“You sometimes hear that citrus fruits are too acidic to compost. But don't worry: microorganisms simply break down those acids and convert them. It won't make your compost (more) acidic. You definitely shouldn't add lime to it either. Orange peels They don't compost, they rot, as you often hear. “But fungi are important for decomposition.”
Composting at home, that is. “Of course. For smooth digestion, you can reduce the peels a little and mix them well with all the other fertilizing materials.
This would not be good because the potatoes could have been treated to prevent premature splitting and sprouting. This actually happened in the past, but nowadays it is (almost) no longer the case. To be sure, rinse the potatoes before peeling them. Sometimes potatoes are heated with gas to prevent them from sprouting, but this process has no effect on fertilization.
Are the peels not digested? “The starch is digested very quickly, but the peel itself may be a little slower. Potato peels can then form sprouts, rather than completely decompose. This usually happens on the outside of the compost bin or compost bin, where the compost mass dries out. In these “In this case, stir and aerate the decomposing material regularly. In this way, the composting process begins again.”
Composting at home, that is. “But follow the tips above. And mix adequately with other organic materials. Composting too much of the 'same stuff' – just potato peelings, for example – is never good.”
What about diseased foliage on potatoes and tomatoes…
“Are the plant parts affected by nematodes, insects or mites? Then you can compost the remains of those plants at home without any problem. These creatures will die during the composting process.”
“Are your scraps affected by fungi, bacteria and viruses? For example, are tomato leaves infected with mold or potato leaves infected with plague? Then we would explicitly advise against composting them at home. The risk is very high that it will not get warm enough in your compost pile and that organisms Harmful microorganisms will survive.
Therefore, it is better not to fertilize at home. “Certainly not if the foliage is clearly affected by fungi, bacteria or viruses. It is best to give these diseased plant parts to organic waste collection or transfer them to the green bin in your recycling garden.
What about lava flour, basalt flour and bentonite?
“I can be very brief about that. There is absolutely no scientific evidence that this would enhance the composting process. So don't spend any money on it.”
Starting all over your house? Be inspired and informed with our free magazine “My Garden and Terrace”.
know more? You'll find an extensive handbook on composting on the Vlaco website. Check the composability of garden and kitchen waste with our home composting guide.
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This article was written by our partner Livios.be, a specialist site focused on construction and renovation.
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