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Joined: Thu Mar 25, 2010 10:53 am
Location: Minnesota

A few questions...

I have read through the threads about what to compost and what is green and brown, but I still have a few questions-

-Coffee grounds- are they green or brown? I noticed someone listed them as green in a reply to a thread, and that confused me seeing they are brown?

-Pine needles- Can I compost them? If so, are they all considered green, or are the dead ones under the trees considered brown?

-Cooked rice- Compost or not? I have read both yes and no.

-Pinto beans?- Just wondering because I have some bad ones in my fridge lol

Thanks :D

Super Green Thumb
Posts: 7500
Joined: Tue May 06, 2008 7:02 pm
Location: El Cerrito, CA

Coffee grounds are a nitrogen source; they are a green. The code words green and brown refer to compost ingredients being relatively rich sources of nitrogen or carbon, respectively. Dead brown tree leaves are actually a brown (carbon) source; brown coffee grounds and tea bags are green (nitrogen) sources.

Pine needles are resistant to composting. They're highly acidic, and many of the "compost critters" cannot cope with them. Acid-loving plants, e.g., azaleas, camellias, rhododendrons, may enjoy a light mulching of pine needles, but unless you're making special compost just for these plants, it's probably best to segregate the pine needles.

Cooked rice is a carbohydrate, as are cooked beans. Many gardeners won't put either into a compost pile. I have put both into my compost bin when they've gotten away from me in the fridge. However, rice doesn't get away from me as often, now that I have dogs (been gardening since the early '80s; dogs since '98 ). Dogs are wonderful for taking care of *some* leftovers! :D

But the...ah..."toxic gas" emitted by canines after consumption of beans :oops: is more than even I want to deal with. So...off to the compost! if I've forgotten about beans and just don't want to make soup (assuming they're still wholesome enough to eat...if not wholesome, they definitely go to the compost).

I can only imagine how much reading you've done, looking through the threads on greens and browns. But now you've received an excellent (I hope?) education on compost ingredients. :D

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

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Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25279
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 6:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

yeah, it's confusing... we talk about "green" and "brown," but it really has nothing to do with color. Coffee grounds are in fact a "green." It would be closer to talk about moist and dry, or soft and hard. Really what we are talking about is C:N (carbon to nitrogen) ratio. "Greens" are fresh, moist, soft, and are higher in nitrogen, like coffee grounds, almost all kitchen scraps, fresh pulled herbaceous weeds... "Browns" are dry, woody, hard and are higher in carbon, like fall leaves, paper, wood chips, woody plants.

Pine needles don't break down very well and are pretty acid. They are better as a mulch for acid loving plants than in the compost pile. Whatever color they are, they would be considered a brown in your compost pile.

I put rice and beans and any other (vegetarian) kitchen scraps in the compost pile.

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