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nes
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How am I doing with my Compost Strategy?

So my compost is just a wire-fenced off box on the side of my garden (it used to just be a pile, so we're slowly improving :D). I've been laying kitchen/veggie scraps then grass clippings then 2 year old outdoor-stored hay then dirt.

How am I doing?

I was doing some more thinking and I realized I haven't put in as much "brown" as I should - would shredded newspaper be a good idea?
What it that really going to do?

I do realize the hay is probably going to add some seeds into my compost, but weed control in my garden is a joke anyway as I back onto a pasture :D
Vanessa raising organic vegetables, livestock, wildflowers, and family in zone 5A.

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rainbowgardener
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compost strategy

Wire bin is fine, that's what I've been using for years, though I make sure it has a top over it too, to keep coons and other larger creatures out.

Be careful with the grass clippings. If you have a very big layer of those, they can mat down and keep the air out, and suddenly you aren't doing aerobic composting any more and the clippings get slimy and nasty. So put them in in thin layers or mix them in with other stuff.

Hay is a brown, so if you are putting any significant amount of hay in your pile, you should be fine for browns. The browns are to have a balance of Carbon and Nitrogen in your pile (browns are carbon). Read some of the articles and posts in the Compost forum, for more of the science of it. Scott, the Helpful Gardener, has written a ton of good stuff about compost science and balance between bacteria and fungi in the compost pile.

You only need a little bit of dirt, just some handfuls mixed in here and there, to add some soil biology in. So you don't need a lot of dirt, but you want it to be good quality, enriched, active.

rot
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mix well

..
Sounds good. Keep moist and keep covered from rain and wind.

Mix well because the grass will clump.

I find shredded newspaper clumps easily. Mix well. The high lignin content in newspaper would be good nutritional value but takes longer to break down than shredded office paper. Of course office paper will come with toner from laser printers and photocopiers. When you realize that toner is plastic you might not like it. Toner is non-toxic but it won't break down. I can get finely shredded office paper and decided that I can live with toner.

two cents
..

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nes
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Joined: Mon Jun 22, 2009 2:20 pm
Location: Rural Ottawa, ON

Thanks guys :)

I've been reading through all the posts, there is allot of good info for sure :).

I actually can't mix my compost :? It got too big (big weed-pulling expedition) before I mixed it and now it's too heavy. I did dig a big hole in the middle this morning, so air is getting to at least 50% of the compost.

It's not covered because I don't throw meat scraps in (so no animal issues) and is protected from rain by being against the shed.

If I've got enough brown with the hay I'll keep the newspaper out then.
Vanessa raising organic vegetables, livestock, wildflowers, and family in zone 5A.

sweet thunder
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According to [url=https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=9089&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0]the sticky on greens and browns[/url] there seems to be some debate about whether hay is a green or a brown.
Several people list it as brown, but then TZ-OH6 says this:
"Hay is a green, straw is a brown. You can feed hay to livestock but not straw. Hay was living grass (and seeds) when cut, straw was dead when cut, and the grain was removed. Like autumn leaves, most of the nutrients were transported out of the straw stalks and into the grain before they died in the field."

So, nes, you may need to add the newspaper after all. You probably already know this, but if you can't mix your pile, it will take a lot longer to break down. My bins are hard to mix as well, but my pile got too full of greens and turned slimy and smelly. I ended up moving the whole pile while adding in generous amounts of straw and now it smells good and breaks down quickly.

The nice thing about straw is that as long as you fluff it up before adding it, it doesn't clump up in the compost that much. Then if you don't want to turn your pile, it will still help to keep things a bit aerated.

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applestar
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If you absolutely can't take it down and rebuild in a second location next to it -- which is the method most of us use -- you could try putting a drainage pipe in your pile. I've seen two methods, one is to stand it straight up like a chimney (usually there's a pile of sticks or a pallet on the bottom of the pile to take in the air), the other is straight through sideways on several levels and locations.

Obviously, this is all much easier if you positioned your pipe(s) as piled your stuff up.

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rainbowgardener
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mixing

I never mix my compost--as you said, once you have a big pile of big weeds and stuff in a bin it can be hard to do. Anyway I like to keep things simple. But usually three times a year I turn it over. That is, I take all the stuff off the top of the old pile and put it in a different place to be the bottom of the new pile. Get down to where all the earthworms are. Then I mix that part some and it is very soon finished compost that I can use. In the meantime I do every once in awhile just take a long stick and punch some holes down through the pile to let air into the the bottom

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