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Starting my compost area - Question About Paper

Posted: Sat Oct 13, 2007 4:49 pm
by sagedavis
Hey all,
I started a thread earlier regarding compost as a general discussion, but, I sort of have a specific question for my own.

As I mentioned, I haven't yet started it, but, I plan to get it built this week, using wood and chicken wire to make a 3 foot by 3 foot box.

I just took a trip to NY to visit my family. My sister's (soon to be) husband actually lives mostly off of his garden during the summer, and he has been composting forever. His is the same method that I mention above, however, all he puts in it is vegatation, egg shells, coffee beans. He does not put for instance, used newspaper and so on.

The question is, I plan on actually throwing my newspapers, scrap paper, and the paper portions of my junkmail into my compost heap. Is this method an ok method for this, or would it be better to plan on the "three box" method, where you build three boxes and rotate from one to the other?

With that question, how long does it take say, a regular piece of paper to break down? Will I see enough to start using this summer? or am I looking at waiting until the following year to be able to use the compost?

Thanks in advance for all of your thoughts.

Posted: Mon Oct 15, 2007 3:07 am
by Gnome

I never bother to make any permanent structure for composting. A method I have used in the past is to use chicken wire or some other lightweight wire to form an open ended cylinder about 3 ft in diameter. When it is time to turn the pile I just unhook the wire, and redo it right next to the old pile. It is then a simple matter to turn the pile into the cylinder again. You do not even really need the wire at all but it does keep things a bit neater.

If you want finished compost quickly it is important to create the proper mixture of greens to browns, maintain proper moisture and turn the pile as soon as it cools down. I'm not sure that you will have anything soon enough to use this year. How much growing season do you have left?

It is my understanding that newspaper is OK as the inks used today are safe. If you shred the newspapers it should help it to decompose quicker. I would not be so quick to use other papers, particularly colored paper from junk mail. I hope this helps a little.


Posted: Mon Oct 15, 2007 3:21 pm
by sagedavis
great information.

Well, I live in Tx, we don't get our first freeze until late December or early January, and we average about 20 freezing days a year during that time, so.... a safe bet would be that the growing season generally ends about Dec 15 for us.

I will not plant anything thil early march though because we have had a time or two where Feb got a little too close to freezing around mid month.

Hmm, your idea is good... no structures. I like that, I might use it.


Posted: Mon Oct 15, 2007 7:46 pm
by Jess
I use newspaper when there are not enough 'browns' around. All you are after sage is a good balance and if you have no leaves or twiggy bits you can add then newspaper comes in very handy.