ChrisC_77
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Just started composting

I just started composting the last few weeks. Maybe because it's summer and I live in the city, I don't have a lot of browns to add. It is mainly veggie scraps, garden scraps, grass clippings, and coffee grounds. Some wood chips thrown in. Here is my question. Is there any good browns available in summer that I don't have to buy or go through the trouble of hunting down? Will it still compost with 90% greens? My neigbor has a tree trimming company and he said I could take wood chips from his truck. But I think wood chips take a long time to break down so maybe I don't want to add too many of them. Maybe like a bucket full every so often. Thoughts?

bnoles
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Re: Just started composting

Worse comes to worse you could buy a bale of wheat straw for about $4. It is a brown and there is a lot of it in one bale. Shredded cardboard and newspaper is also a brown.
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Just started composting

For future reference, every fall I collect bags of fall leaves that people put at the curb for pick up, like a dozen or so big yard waste bags. I just now used the last of last fall's leaves. For right now, you can buy a bale of straw. I know you said not buying, but the straw bale is cheap and lasts a really long time. Otherwise if you know anyone who takes a newspaper, have them give them to you or just buy the Sunday paper. Or bring all your groceries home in paper bags. Throw all your junk mail in the pile and used paper towels.

All green piles can be too wet and pack down too much excluding air and becoming a stinky slimy mess.
Last edited by rainbowgardener on Fri Aug 02, 2013 7:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
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tomc
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Re: Just started composting

News paper or saw dust will work.
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ChrisC_77
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Re: Just started composting

My neighbor who is a tree trimmer just parked his truck and it is loaded with some sort of pine branches and needles. Now I can completely fill my bin, but would that be too much ratio of that one material to break down?

*dim*
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Re: Just started composting

you can use brown cardboard boxes .... shred them, and soak them in a bucket of water, then add the wet cardboard to your bin
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Just started composting

*dim* wrote:you can use brown cardboard boxes .... shred them, and soak them in a bucket of water, then add the wet cardboard to your bin
They will break down faster if you do what dim says. But I don't like to work too hard at composting, so I just tear them into about notebook paper sized pieces and throw it in.
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striperbware
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Re: Just started composting

My compost piles are severely lacking browns for now. They are almost purely grass clippings. This fall I will have a good amount of oak leaves to rake up and add, so the balance will better.

My opinion from experience with composting is - the most imperfect compost is still very good for increasing the productivity of your garden. The compost I have made from pure grass clippings has provided great tomato and melon yields for me. I am happy to have compost to use, regardless of its imperfections. It is all good !
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toxcrusadr
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Re: Just started composting

My neighbor who is a tree trimmer just parked his truck and it is loaded with some sort of pine branches and needles. Now I can completely fill my bin, but would that be too much ratio of that one material to break down?
Pine needles can be quite slow to decompose because of their waxy coating.
If the stuff is shredded, it will be a good ingredient though. If it's branches, it might take a very long time to break down.

If you can get shredded branches or just plain pine needles w/o branches, make a pile next to your bin an put a layer in each time you add your other stuff.
Tox

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Just started composting

"Now I can completely fill my bin, but would that be too much ratio of that one material to break down?"

Definitely YES. You want a roughly 60 / 40 greens/browns ratio, by volume (not rocket science, it can vary) IN LAYERS as tox said or all mixed together. But your greens and browns should be made up of different components. So greens are weeds, grass clippings, kitchen scraps, etc and browns are leaves, paper (tear up your junk mail), tough perennials you trim back, chipped up branches, etc.

In general we say no more than 10 % of the pile one ingredient, where fall leaves can be a bunch of ingredients but maple leaves or pine needles are one ingredient. (I learned that from toxcrusader! :) ) Like everything else in gardening, that's a guideline not a rule, but it is a useful guideline to keep in mind.

So as tox said, keep a separate pile and feed the browns in to the pile a bit at a time. That's what I do with my collected bags of fall leaves. Then every time I add greens to the pile (dump my bucket of kitchen scraps or throw in the weeds I pull), I cover them with the leaves.
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ChrisC_77
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Re: Just started composting

Well I went out to turn my pile for the first time since it had a decent amount of mass to it. It was definitely hot in the middle. It was steaming and breaking down nicely. I raked it all out and mixed it and piled the compost again.

I do have one question, I don't have a place to put finished compost and only have one bin. At some point should I stop adding to the pile and let it break down completely? I could bag it and store it and then start again. This makes the most since to me. But I have never done it before.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Just started composting

Sounds like your original compost pile is doing well!

So while you are letting that pile finish, what will you be doing with all the kitchen scraps, weeds, yard trimmings, other compostables that come along? You will be piling them up somewhere waiting for the compost pile space to open up. You might as well call that "somewhere" your new compost pile. Make another bin from wire fencing, wooden pallets that you can get for free or whatever is on hand.

Don't store your finished compost. One of the best things about compost is that it is full of life - soil biota, earthworms, beneficial fungi etc etc. If you bag it and store it, you kill it. The place for finished compost is in the garden. There's always somewhere in your garden that could benefit from a top dressing of compost. If nothing else, it is also very good for your lawn. For lawn application, you would probably want to sift it down to a finer texture.
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gepstein
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Re: Just started composting

Browns are carbs...so cardboard boxes are fine...no ink, not dyed or bleached...just plain brown cardboard, torn into thinner strips...I know a farm which with hay & cardboard turned a rocky field into quite a garden...earthworms reportedly love the cardboard...just wet it before adding to compost to accelerate decomposition



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