Vince_Grave
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First compost pile coming soon... got questions!

So before I start my first compost pile, I read as much as I could here and there.
I pretty much understand the general concept of mixing browns and greens and how to have good proportion of both.

My main concern is, what happens if you don't have a lot of browns. I live in the middle of a field. My 1 acre land doesn't have trees (only 2 small...) and 30% of it already has grass (yay! lots and lots of greens) the rest is pretty much weeds and long grass. I don't think I'm gonna have a lot of leaves.

So I'm not too sure what I could put as browns. I think my main source would be paper toilet cores but still... I feel like I wont have enough browns.

When I first bought the land, there was 5-6 hay stack. So I guess I do have hay... but I don't know if I can recognize it haha..

I'm wondering, If I post a picture of my backyard, would you guys be able to recognize hay from weeds, etc?
Or tell me if there is browns in there...

I know that sound stupid... just throwing it out there.

kweb
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Re: First compost pile coming soon... got questions!

Hi,
Here's some things.
Leaves, woods chips/twigs, pruning cuts, shredded paper/newspaper(torn up) and not glossy magazines, pieces of cardboard, hay, sawdust, nutshells, fire ash, hair, eggshells.

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ElizabethB
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Re: First compost pile coming soon... got questions!

Until this past fall I had all of the Browns I needed from the March leaf fall of my live oak. Unfortunately we had to have it taken out. The huge branches over the house, shop and patio were splitting. :twisted: No more leaves.

My alternative is to scavenge the neighborhood in fall and spring and ask my neighbors for permission to gather their bags of leaves.

My Parish (county) maintains a compost facility. All of the Parish yard waste is deposited there as well as the waste from landscapers, arborist and yard services. It is all composted and given away to parish residents. A very good, free source of browns.

I tried shredding paper towel and toilet paper rolls but my hands gave out before the rolls were depleted. I have run newspaper (black and white pages only) through the shredder and added it to my compost bins. I learned that I have to add it in very thin layers then toss it in with rest of the compost. If I do not I end up with a very messy wad of wet paper.

Good luck
Elizabeth - or Your Majesty

Living and growing in Lafayette, La.

When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant. ~Author Unknown

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applestar
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Re: First compost pile coming soon... got questions!

Did you read the Browns and Greens sticky?

I think you are tight that PAPER is primary household waste for Brown's -- it just depends on what kind of paper -- so ... brown paper bags, used dirty paper napkins and paper towels, TP and Paper Towel cores, wrapping paper cores, paper pulp products like egg cartons and fast food trays, package shipping paper, direct food contact pizza box and cake box, gray paper boxes like some cereal box (consider what is used for printing the colorful outside, cake boxes..... Some people use shredded office paper -- I'm not comfortable with the printer and copier toner and printer ink, but I sort through the recycle/re-use pile from our printer and route minimally printed mistake papers for use in the compost pile rather than the paper recycle.

On the lawn, thatch is probably brown like straw. You may be able to collect accumulated fall leaves from some locations -- in my garden, leaves all get windblown during the winter and pile up against the house and under the patio furniture, and against the back fence, so I usually have enough from cleaning the patio and gathering from the fence area for building the first spring compost pile.
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rainbowgardener
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Re: First compost pile coming soon... got questions!

You are right, you will need a lot more browns. I have two main sources. In the fall I collect lots of bags of leaves that people put out at the curb for pick up. So even though I don't have a lot of fall leaves on my own property, I end up with lots of leaves. If the supply of fall leaves run out by summer, I go to local feed/garden store and buy a bale of straw and feed that into the compost pile a bit at a time.

You want straw not hay. Hay is cut while green and is a "green" in the compost pile and typically comes with lots of weed seeds. Hay is plant stalks that were left until brown (the nitrogen is reabsorbed by the roots) and then cut. It is a definite brown and doesn't have nearly as much seeds with it. The straw doesn't break down in my compost pile as fast as the leaves do, but it does break down.
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Vince_Grave
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Re: First compost pile coming soon... got questions!

I did read the stickies. I just feel like I won't have enough no matter where it comes from.
I guess I'll have to become a leaf thief as well :)

I read in that green brown sticky that dried grass clippings is green because it was alive when you harvested them.

Does this mean that If I let stuff die before harvesting them, they becomes browns?

Image

so this is my land. There is alot of weed that died during winter ... but have not been harvested. Should I consider it browns or greens?

tomc
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Re: First compost pile coming soon... got questions!

If it calms your heart any, ask before taking autumnal leaves. For myself a few dozen uncomprehending stares, and mute home owners. I just stopped asking and took the darned leaves.

In a ten year period in one area I had two, count them two people ask what i wanted the leaves for. And once they knew they were for my garden, told me to carry on.

Every bag you put to work is one less thing for your local waste stream to have to deal with.
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imafan26
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Re: First compost pile coming soon... got questions!

If you are going to use primarily grass for the compost pile, you need to mix it well with other green like leaves or kitchen waste for the green layer or spread out the blades so that it won't end up as a lump. If grass is dumped in a lump, it mats up and air does not get through well and it not only takes longer to decompose that way, it also becomes a slimy mess. We had that happen in one of our composting bins. Someone was being helpful and instead of leaving the grass clippings on the side, they dumped it into the bin and we ended up having to break it up and remixing. That was not that easy because by then the grass stuck in clumps as it dried.
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rainbowgardener
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Re: First compost pile coming soon... got questions!

There's such a small window for editing these days. In the last post I said:

"You want straw not hay. Hay is cut while green and is a "green" in the compost pile and typically comes with lots of weed seeds. Hay is plant stalks that were left until brown (the nitrogen is reabsorbed by the roots) and then cut. It is a definite brown and doesn't have nearly as much seeds with it. The straw doesn't break down in my compost pile as fast as the leaves do, but it does break down."

The second time it says hay, it should say STRAW. Yes plants/ leaves/ stalks that are left standing until they are dead become browns. Its why green leaves off a tree are "greens" in the compost pile, while fall leaves that dropped are "browns." The tree, being thrifty, reabsorbs the nitrogen from the leaves before letting go of them.
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ElizabethB
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Re: First compost pile coming soon... got questions!

Vince - forgot to say Warm Welcome to the forum. Glad to have you.

Suggestion: update your profile with your county and state. With that information member will be able to give better advice and help you with research.

Check with your city/county. Many communities have a compost facility. In my Parish (county) we have yard waste pick up. It goes to the compost facility. Landscapers, yard services, arborist, utility companies all pay a fee to dump waste at the facility. The resulting compost is given away - FREE - to parish residents. Show up with a truck and or trailer and you are loaded up with compost. A great source of browns for you compost bins.

Our facility does an excellent job. The material is actually composted enough to use "as is".

I am always amaze how many people in my community are unaware of this free resource.

Good luck
Elizabeth - or Your Majesty

Living and growing in Lafayette, La.

When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant. ~Author Unknown

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rainbowgardener
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Re: First compost pile coming soon... got questions!

I don't think that adding finished compost to a compost pile adds anything and I don't think it counts as a "brown" (remembering that brown in this usage has nothing to do with color, and indicates hard, dry, carbon rich). Being a finished product made from browns and greens, the compost should be pretty well balanced between them.

It would be great as a mulch, top dressing, soil amendment, etc.
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Vince_Grave
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Re: First compost pile coming soon... got questions!

rainbowgardener wrote: Yes plants/ leaves/ stalks that are left standing until they are dead become browns. Its why green leaves off a tree are "greens" in the compost pile, while fall leaves that dropped are "browns." The tree, being thrifty, reabsorbs the nitrogen from the leaves before letting go of them.

So according to my picture above, I can say I have TONS of browns ?!

green&colorful
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Re: First compost pile coming soon... got questions!

Yes you have TONS of browns...

as green use your kitchen waste...

toxcrusadr
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Re: First compost pile coming soon... got questions!

At least you did whenever that picture was taken. Nature marches on and waits for no man. :wink:
Tox

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