elaine
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Composted manure

I have a line on some cheap, well composted cow manure. If I mix it with my lawn clippings will that make good ground cover between the rows?

opabinia51
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Well what you want to do is mix it with a compound that has a C:N ration (Carbon to Nitrogen) that is somewhere around or above 300:1. Grass is considered a green which means that it has a C:N ratio that is closer to 1, like manure is.

Now when you just have greens you can run into the problem of it smelling. So, if you have access to some leaves, that would work. I like to mulch mine with the mower first.

Another option is to use Cocoa bean hulls which you can buy in a compressed form that need to be soaked in water first.

elaine
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I can get grass clippings that are a few weeks old but not much in the way of brown leaves. Beyond the composted manure I can't spend much. Will the manure do any harm if I mix it with the clippings I can scrounge and nothing else? I'm mainly worried about burning up my garden. The manure is mixed with some aged compost from the look and feel of it.

opabinia51
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It definately won't harm anything though it may start to smell. I put grass clippings on all my beds throughout the year without a brown ammendment and they don't smell. They actually turn a little brown and dry out.

Go ahead and try things out, I don't think you'll do any major damage.

But, this fall, save a couple of piles of leaves around the yard for just such use.
I actually mulch all my beds in with leaves, manure, coffee grounds, grass clippings and so on in layers and have leaf mold piles but, you don't have to go that far.

elaine
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Thank you!

aqh88
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If it's well composted you can use it straight. I always do. I got tired of trying to amend the clay soil in the backyard and just dug it up and replaced it with the manure compost everywhere I wanted to plant. It has to look like black soil though with no smell. If it starts to smell it's probably not quite done composting. The cow and horse manure I use never smells like anything but typical soil from the yard. It's very well composted and does not burn the plants. I've mixed it with less than 10% of our existing clay soil and then planted with no problems. My blueberries are very happy now and most of my herbs and flowers are doing well with it.

cynthia_h
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If it's possible to let your yard clippings dry out, they will become browns! :D and then you won't have to worry about where to find browns.

Would this work for you?

Cynthia H.
El Cerrito, CA

beechnut1974
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No expert here but dried out brown grass clippings is still considered a green and not a brown. Grass is nirtogen content while the "browns" are carbon content.

cynthia_h
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Perhaps more recent research has changed the findings, but my source for the "drying the grass out" statement is:

Backyard Composting: Your Complete Guide to Recycling Yard Clippings, by Harmonious Technologies, 1992 (no individual author credited). Technical consultants included

--Dr. Clark Gregory, "Compost Man," Atlanta, GA
--Richard Kashmanian, senior economist, USEPA
--Ruth Richardson, master composter, Recycling Council of Ontario
--Dr. Bill Roley, director, Permaculture Institute of Southern California
--and several others

and here is the quote from p. 38:

"When adding wet grass clippings, it helps to mix them thoroughly in order to prevent odors generated by large clumps. As an alternative, consider solar drying your grass clippings on your driveway for a day or two before placing them in the compost bin; this will change them from green to brown materials."

Given that all organic things contain carbon, it makes sense that desiccating something would leave the carbon behind, while the nitrogen volatilizes into the atmosphere. Otherwise, Carbon 14 dating of ancient fossils wouldn't work; clearly, the carbon has been left in the formerly living creatures/bones.

Granted it's been (ahem...) a while :wink: since I studied chemistry, but I'd be happy to read a more recent source to find out how the carbon exits the grass.

Thx.

Cynthia H.
El Cerrito, CA

Charlie MV
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bye
Last edited by Charlie MV on Tue May 18, 2010 12:17 am, edited 1 time in total.

beechnut1974
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cynthia_h wrote:Perhaps more recent research has changed the findings, but my source for the "drying the grass out" statement is:

Backyard Composting: Your Complete Guide to Recycling Yard Clippings, by Harmonious Technologies, 1992 (no individual author credited). Technical consultants included

--Dr. Clark Gregory, "Compost Man," Atlanta, GA
--Richard Kashmanian, senior economist, USEPA
--Ruth Richardson, master composter, Recycling Council of Ontario
--Dr. Bill Roley, director, Permaculture Institute of Southern California
--and several others

and here is the quote from p. 38:

"When adding wet grass clippings, it helps to mix them thoroughly in order to prevent odors generated by large clumps. As an alternative, consider solar drying your grass clippings on your driveway for a day or two before placing them in the compost bin; this will change them from green to brown materials."

Given that all organic things contain carbon, it makes sense that desiccating something would leave the carbon behind, while the nitrogen volatilizes into the atmosphere. Otherwise, Carbon 14 dating of ancient fossils wouldn't work; clearly, the carbon has been left in the formerly living creatures/bones.

Granted it's been (ahem...) a while :wink: since I studied chemistry, but I'd be happy to read a more recent source to find out how the carbon exits the grass.

Thx.

Cynthia H.
El Cerrito, CA
Ok this makes a little sense to me <sorry I am not the brightest crayon in the box> but if letting the grass turn brown makes it a brown and the nitrogen goes into the air how the heck does the nitrogen get into the soil if you mix it while its green?
I mean, once its in the compost pile its going to turn brown and by this theory there would be no nitrogen going into the soil it would all escape to the atmosphere. So there would be no benifit or need to have a green to brown ratio to begin with.

At least thats what my brain is telling me but that may not mean much lol.
I hate chemistry :)

aqh88
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If what's been posted is true then my guess would be the nitrogen never leaves the grass because the grass never dries. A dry compost pile does not compost. The materials break down while damp.

Sawdust works well with manure compost. The stuff I get out of the horse stalls all winter is a mix of sawdust, hay, and manure. Probably 60-75% manure. It composts well. Same with the stuff I clean out of the guinea pig cages although that's a bit high in wood shavings so it works better as mulch unless I add some manure.

cynthia_h
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One reason gardeners go so ga-ga over "nitrogen-fixing plants" is that these plants grab the nitrogen OUT OF THE AIR and transfer it to their roots in those little nodules. Our atmosphere here on earth is approx. 20.8% oxygen, approx. 78% nitrogen, and "trace" gases, like carbon dioxide, argon, blah blah, so there's definitely a lot of nitrogen for the plants to grab.

Once the (wet = green) grass is in the compost, it will stay moist if you water your compost frequently enough. The microbes/critters will digest the grass and give you yummy (well, for plants...) compost. The benefit of having a green/brown balance is:

enough browns will keep a too-green pile from becoming slimy and smelly

enough greens will keep a too-brown pile from becoming too cold to decompose

Those are the basic points. This is also why I don't stress about my green/brown balance: as long as the compost smells OK and is decomposing, I figure my critters are happy!

I *loved* chemistry; it was my planned-for major in college. But major life disasters interposed themselves, and it was not to be. I still have a fondness for it...

Hope this helped!

Cynthia H.
El Cerrito
USDA Zone 9, Sunset Zone 17

beechnut1974
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Joined: Mon May 05, 2008 2:48 am

cynthia_h wrote:One reason gardeners go so ga-ga over "nitrogen-fixing plants" is that these plants grab the nitrogen OUT OF THE AIR and transfer it to their roots in those little nodules. Our atmosphere here on earth is approx. 20.8% oxygen, approx. 78% nitrogen, and "trace" gases, like carbon dioxide, argon, blah blah, so there's definitely a lot of nitrogen for the plants to grab.

Once the (wet = green) grass is in the compost, it will stay moist if you water your compost frequently enough. The microbes/critters will digest the grass and give you yummy (well, for plants...) compost. The benefit of having a green/brown balance is:

enough browns will keep a too-green pile from becoming slimy and smelly

enough greens will keep a too-brown pile from becoming too cold to decompose

Those are the basic points. This is also why I don't stress about my green/brown balance: as long as the compost smells OK and is decomposing, I figure my critters are happy!

I *loved* chemistry; it was my planned-for major in college. But major life disasters interposed themselves, and it was not to be. I still have a fondness for it...

Hope this helped!

Cynthia H.
El Cerrito
USDA Zone 9, Sunset Zone 17
Now I get it lol its all about temperature control :)

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