Q: I want to start composting my kitchen waste and I'm wondering whether seeds from produce can go in. One would think that pepper seeds might start a plant of their own in the compost pile. What say you? I found the EPA's web page on compost, which lists Do's and Don'ts, but it doesn't address seeds.
Sent in by Click Chick
Editor: It's our understanding that just about anything organic can go in compost: bones, banana peels, unprinted paper. The do's and don'ts matter if you are in a rush or if you live in a place where wild critters (or neighbor dogs) might rummage through your pile: in that case, leave out the paper and anything that contains meat, like spoiled leftovers. We are a little perplexed, though, by the EPA's language: animal manure is in, but pet waste is out? Huh?
A further aside about language and culture: it is shocking that 24% of our garbage is "yard trimmings and food residuals." We wonder why the EPA doesn't call it what it is: waste.
As for seeds... A properly functioning compost pile gets hot enough that few seeds will germinate, and the chemical composition of a compost pile is simply too rich for most plants: so many nutrients are actually poison. (Remember back to your childhood when your neighbors over-fertilized, and killed, their lawn.) So compost away, seeds and all. A few seeds may tough it out, but it's unlikely you'll end up with a pepper plant in your compost pile.