How to - Organic Gardening

Composting your Christmas tree

Turn your Christmas tree into garden-friendly goodness with these composting tips

Pay careful attention to your holiday waste; much of it is compostable, such as any wreath made from evergreens or other greens, cut flowers, and plants.

The green layer can include:

  • Grass cuttings
  • Tea leaves (including the bag, if it's made of organic recycled material)
  • Coffee grounds
  • Dead flowers
  • Weeds (leaves only; no roots or seeds)
  • Old plants
  • Seaweed, green material from ponds, algae


The brown layer can include:

  • Wood material, prunings, wood chippings (shredded, if possible)
  • Coffee grounds
  • Recycled brown paper, cardboard, paper-towel rolls (shredded, if possible)
  • Leaves (small quantities)
  • Eggshells and paper egg cartons (rinse and crush first)
  • Sawdust, wood shavings, pinecones
  • Hay and straw (small quantities)
  • Clothes dryer lint, pet and human hairs
  • Uncooked kitchen scraps that are plant-, vegetable-, or fruit-based, without any oils


The following should never be added to your composter:

  • Meat or fish
  • Grease, oil, cooked food scraps
  • Cat litter
  • Manure
  • Diapers
  • Barbecue ash

There's no shortage of kitchen scraps around the holidays, and these scraps are either green or brown material, depending on what you're cooking. Set aside a bin in your kitchen for collecting food-prep scraps. It doesn't have to be large; I use a stainless steel bucket with a lid, which I keep on the kitchen counter within easy reach. Use the list provided, paying particular attention to what not to include, and start collecting your scraps. (No cooked food can be added to a compost pile, because it lacks the necessary enzymes that break it down.) When the container is full, simply empty the bin into your composter and mix it in. If you're just getting started and the composter is empty, you'll need to toss in some grass clippings to cover your kitchen scraps to deter pests.

Exerpted with permission from
I'm Dreaming Of a Green Christmas: Gifts, Decorations, and Recipes that Use Less and Mean More (Chronicle Books)


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