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jasbo
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Location: Southern Oregon

Will cedar "needles" break down?

I have a store-bought compost bin my wife started last year around this time that in only 1/4 full and has very little composting going on. I'm trying to figure out how all this composting (and gardening) stuff works since, in my impending retirement, I'll be taking over most of this.

First problem is we just don't have enough stuff in there to produce much compost. We do have a mess of needles, or whatever you'd call them, from a Western Cedar tree. Does this stuff break down well enough that I should add it to the modest compost heap, or should I look for other filler?

As always, any help is appreciated!

Jim

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farmerlon
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I don't have any experience with Western Cedar specifically; but, typically, anything that is "woody" will be higher in Carbon, and slower to decompose. If you have a good mix of "green" (Nitrogen rich) materials that you add to the pile, that will help.

tomc
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As long as you do not spray weed & feeds, or herbicides; All yard waste can go into a compost bin.

Woody-brushy bits will need to get chopped up, but it all goes in

Any herbivor manure can go into a compost bin.
Think like a tree
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rainbowgardener
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If you can run it through a grinder, okay. But the cedar is not only woody, it is oil-rich/resinous and so left alone it will be VERY slow to break down. You can add some, but don't over do it.

In general, we suggest no more than 10% of a pile be any one ingredient. Part of the point of composting is to have a balanced mixture.

Read the browns/greens sticky at the top of this section for more suggestions of ingredients.

Do you save all your kitchen scraps? I put a two gallon bucket of kitchen scraps in the compost pile every week, year round.

If you go by Starbucks type places, they will give you lots of coffee grounds (I bring home the grounds from all the coffee that gets made at work).

In the fall, I bring home bags of leaves that other people put out at the curb, so I use fall leaves as my main "brown" much of the year. When the brown paper yard waste bags the leaves come in are empty, I compost those too.

Pulled weeds, grass clippings, deadheaded flowers (every spring I dead head the huge old lilac bush in the front yard once flowers are done, that fills up my compost pile for a while) , paper grocery bags, torn up cardboard boxes, used paper towels, toilet paper tubes, yard trimmings, sawdust, wood ash (in small amounts) .... anything organic.
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jasbo
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Joined: Mon Feb 14, 2011 12:16 am
Location: Southern Oregon

Great info. Thanks. RBG: So far our pile is almost but kitchen scraps (orange peels, coffee grounds, carrot and radish ends, egg shells and such. So that's why I'm looking for some kind of yard waste. We don't have a catcher for the mower, so we have no lawn clippings.

I need to read the greens/browns sticky and start looking for some ingredients to round out the mix. Sounds like the cedar stuff is not a good option since our pile has already been slow to compost.

Jim

toxcrusadr
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There's a reason why Western Red Cedar is prized as a rot-resistant lumber, and why downed trees can lie on the forest floor for decades. I don't know about the needles but the wood sure is durable.
Tox

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