peachguy
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Paper and composting

can I use shredded black and white news paper in my composter for the carbon part of the C/N ratio because I am having a hard time finding carbon materials. I know leaves are good but when summer comes large amounts are hard to find, and saw dust is hard to find aswell. I always have enough nitrogen containing materials but not enough carbon containing materials.

Newt
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You sure can and for more browns include cardboard, junk mail, fallen leaves in fall or even partially decomposed leaves. Used coffee grounds will be a green.
https://www.helpfulgardener.com/tips/03/compost.html

Newt
Last edited by Newt on Mon Feb 05, 2007 11:41 pm, edited 2 times in total.

peachguy
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thanks now will have lots of browns

Newt
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You're so welcome! :D

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opabinia51
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I'm not sure if it was clear up there but, coffee grounds are actually a green and have a lot of nitrogen. They are also high in micronutrients. Be careful with coffee grounds because if you have your compost pile next to your house, they can catch on fire from the high amounts of nitrogen.

The way to combat this problem is to add lots of browns such as leaves, black and white newspaper articles (colour ink contains dioxins and other nasty compounds that can harm plants and the soil), and other browns.

Newt
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Opabinia, thanks for helping me with my brain fog. I've edited my post to show the coffee grounds as a green so others reading here don't get confused! :oops:

Newt

peachguy
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what is the best brown to use in summer when leaves aren't available?

opabinia51
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Well, what I do is save piles of leaves in the fall. (Some I mulch up and some I leave (no pun) whole). But, black and white newspaper articles work..... that C:N Ratio thread would be good right now................., broken up sticks and twigs work well. I think that cotton seed meal is a brown but, it may be a green.

Sorry peach guy, I'm blanking on my browns right now.

peachguy
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thats alright I will use newspaper now and save leaves next fall(I used a lot this year in sheet composting). For sticks and twigs would it be good to break them up in smaller pieces. Also would cedar or pine shavings that is used for pet bedding work as a brown?

opabinia51
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Hi Peachguy!

Cedar shaving would be great for pet bedding as they are high in lignin and have a low pH would slows their decay and therefore the nitrogenous compounds in your pets fecal matter will not emit negative smells as much due to the fact that they will be tied up by bacteria and fungi that are very slowly decomposing the wood.

With Sticks an twigs: Yes, I always break them up a bit before throwing them into the mix. But, you can leave a few more or less whole just to keep a balance in the decomposition process.

I don't know about your area but, where I live the local municipality is slow at cleaning up the leaves from the fall so, if the snow is still around wait until early spring and drive around looking for leaves that have not bee raked up yet and bag them up for your own use.

Personally, I don't think that the municipality should rake the leaves up because what they are doing is removing the nutrients that trees have extracted from the soil and the nutrients are then not replaced. This results in nutrient depleted soil that and plants that will be less healthy because of this.

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Gnome
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Peachguy,
Also would cedar or pine shavings that is used for pet bedding work as a brown?
Is this purely bedding material or could it possibly contain fecal matter? I have always kept manure from household animals out of my compost, particularly if it is intended for my vegetable garden. It could even pose a health risk to you, through handling, if used in flower beds.
Here is some information to consider before using pet manures in compost.
Don’t compost:

•Diseased plants*
•Animal mortalities**
•Dog or cat feces**
•Fats**
•Meat**

* Many fungi and spores are not killed in the composting process. Adding them can spread the disease further.
** Experienced composters can compost these, but correct temperatures MUST be met.

Norm

peachguy
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all I ment was it was just pure bedding for use in dry spells of leaves or paper.

opabinia51
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That's an excellant point Norm. Manure from cats, dogs and the like can contain diseases so, it is best not used in food gardens.

Peachguy, were you planning on using pet manure? I missed that.

peachguy
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no I wasn't planning on using animal manure.

opabinia51
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Here is an interesting dichotomy that I still need to research further. I have often come across literature (with no backing evidence) that cat and dog feces contains disease organisms and therefor shouldn't be used to fertilize plants.

However, purely from my own knowledge; cats, dog, horse, cow and even human and so on all have bacteria in their manure and fungal spores are in abundance in the air. So, what would be interesting to look into would be: why are cat and dog manure (and human) so profaned against as far as disease is concerned?

Personally, I see no problem with using any sort manure provided it is combined with a corresponding brown. This happens in nature all the time just not to the same scale that is used in agricultural terms.

But, consider the thousands of birds that live the in the coastal forests of British Columbia, supplying the forest floor and even canopy with an abundance of nitrogen rich guano and the associated orgnanisms contained there in.

Definately something to be looked into. Thanks for bringing it up Norm.

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Opa,

Peachguy mentioned pet bedding,
Also would cedar or pine shavings that is used for pet bedding work as a brown?
as did you,
Cedar shaving would be great for pet bedding as they are high in lignin and have a low pH would slows their decay and therefore the nitrogenous compounds in your pets fecal matter will not emit negative smells as much due to the fact that they will be tied up by bacteria and fungi that are very slowly decomposing the wood.
sorry if I misinterpreted.
However, purely from my own knowledge; cats, dog, horse, cow and even human and so on all have bacteria in their manure and fungal spores are in abundance in the air. So, what would be interesting to look into would be: why are cat and dog manure (and human) so profaned against as far as disease is concerned?
I have not done extensive reading on this subject but as I understand it the concern is not so much bacteria or fungi, but parasites. Our pets harbor parasites that also can infect us. Check out the link I provided above. The important thing is that we all stay safe.

Norm

opabinia51
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Ah yes, parasites! These would be members of the Kingdom Animalia. The first parasite that comes to mind would be the tape worm, can you list some other parasites Norm?

However, it's important to take into consideration that all animals can harbour parasites and that it is always a possibility that some sort of pathogen (albeit a parasite or some other detrimental organism) is living in the soil and thefore when eating any vegetable, fruit or what have you, to wash it first.

I have noticed even from a few posts on our site here that some people are becoming quite hysterical about eating food after the Escherichia Coli transmissions that have occured so, even when buying so called "prewashed lettuce and spinach" it is important to wash it anyway, just to be safe.

With a well balanced population of organisms living in the soil, any pathogens that are emitted from an animal will soon be curtailed in their growth curve so as they would not become a problem.

This is an excellant discussion, and anything that anyone can add would be great!

peachguy
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Also when I said I wasn't using manure, I mean fresh manure I use composted manure all the time. It is good stuff and since it is composted has less a chance of harboring pathogens.

Newt
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opabinia51 wrote:This is an excellant discussion, and anything that anyone can add would be great!
Something I noticed is that the manure that can be used in the garden is from animals that are herbivores and don't eat meat ie: chicken, horse, cow, sheep, rabbit. I think there is less risk of parasites and disease organisms with these.

Newt

opabinia51
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Yes, and with respect to composting; when manure is left on it's own (or better with a 50:50 ratio of browns to manure(I like leaves)) it will hot compost therefore killing any animal parasites. However, fungal spores and some bacteria can survive extremely high (in the case of fungal spores) and high temperatures (in the case of thermophillic bacteria).

But, given this statement it is important to realize that the vast majority of fungi and bacteria are non pathogenic and are actually beneficial soil organisms. (Also, it is important to note that we know about less than 1% of the bacteria that live in the soil and the figure is probably similar for fungi) A lot of work for scientists like Dr. Roy Riel at my University to do in the future. But, important work.

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Grey
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opabinia51 wrote:Here is an interesting dichotomy that I still need to research further. I have often come across literature (with no backing evidence) that cat and dog feces contains disease organisms and therefor shouldn't be used to fertilize plants.

However, purely from my own knowledge; cats, dog, horse, cow and even human and so on all have bacteria in their manure and fungal spores are in abundance in the air. So, what would be interesting to look into would be: why are cat and dog manure (and human) so profaned against as far as disease is concerned?
The only reason I can conjure up is what is in our diets is... not the healthiest. We have a lot of artifical elements in our diets, I'm not going to go into detail lest I ruffle some feathers. I don't understand what would be wrong with dog or cat manure, since I have read that dog food is good in the compost pile, so what's wrong with it after it has been excreted?

OR, is the danger really just a concern that we would mishandle the dog/cat/human manure and make ourselves sick?

emiwri
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What about shrimp shells?

What about shrimp shells? Is there any reason why you shouldn't toss them in to be composted?

Newt
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Emiwri, I've used shrimp shells in compost. It actually increases microbe activity. It's best if you can grind or shred them. From this site:
https://www.groworganic.com/library_42.html
For example, onfarm research showed a 90+% reduction in root knot nematodes in 3 weeks when applying only 20 lb/acre of Eco-Poly 21 Micro Shrimp through a drip irrigation system. To achieve similar results, using regular shrimp shell products, requires 1,500-2,000 lb/acre and a minimum of 4-6 months!
Newt

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