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?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 since I studied chemistry, but I'd be happy to read a more recent source to find out how the carbon exits the grass.
El Cerrito, CA
Now I get it lol its all about temperature controlcynthia_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!
USDA Zone 9, Sunset Zone 17