QUESTION: Can you put bread in compost? My friend says it will attract rats and that I shouldn’t do it. — Elliot S
ANSWER: Gardeners and experienced composters have varying opinions on whether or not to compost stale bread. Some believe that adding bread to compost can needlessly attract unwanted pests to your compost pile, while others disagree and assert that as long as bread scraps are buried in the center of the pile, adding stale bread to your compost is practically the same as adding vegetable scraps or other kitchen trash, especially if your pile is adequately covered to deter rodents and other unwanted pests from rooting around in your compost.
When adding bread to compost, be sure to pay attention to the ingredients of the specific bread product to make sure that it does not contain dairy products, or anything else that should not be composted. Though fresh bread can be added to compost as well, it is best to add bread products after they have gone stale and started to mold.
Before adding stale bread to your compost pile, break it down into small pieces and mix them with the other kitchen scraps that are ready to add into your pile. Add all food scraps to the center of the pile and cover them completely to help deter rodents and decrease the chance of creating foul odors from the decomposing food items.
Those that have a covered composting system have an advantage in deterring rodents and other pests, but a properly maintenanced pile that is regularly turned and well-balanced with brown and green materials and even and consistent moisture levels, should not have any pest or rodent problems either, whether they choose to compost stale bread with their other kitchen scraps or not.
Opinions also tend to differ as to whether bread scraps should be considered a green or brown compost material. However, due to bread’s high nitrogen content, most agree that it should be considered a green material. Keep in mind when adding bread and other food scraps to your compost pile, that your pile should consist of no more than one third green materials, and be sure to add in plenty of brown materials to help bring a healthy balance to your compost pile.