determining fitness for cold compost pile

Asked June 18, 2020, 9:48 PM EDT

Hello - I have a cold compost pile (which has produced great compost). I typically feed it with vegetable matter from the kitchen, and a little leaves and grass. I would like to know how to determine if plants or plant trimmings are healthy enough to be put in the pile. Is a visual inspection enough? Are there plants that should never go in a cold pile, or those that never pose a problem? Thanks as always. - Jim

Howard County Maryland

1 Response

Hi- never include any parts of poison ivy plants. Don't add any weeds that are flowering (reproductive structures, including seeds, can continue to mature after plants are pulled). Avoid adding plants to a cold/slow compost pile that show symptoms of diseases that are a problem in your landscape and gardens. Examples: early blight of tomato; Southern blight of herbs, flowers, and vegetables; Cladosporium of peony.

Visual inspection is enough and it's always a judgement call.