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Composting Basics

Page history last edited by Deanne Bednar 10 years, 7 months ago

COMPOSTING  

                              . . . returns nutrients to the cycle of life, creates soil, reduces landfills & methane gas.

     Browns & Greens: 

Browns – dry material (Carbon)

Greens ~ wet material  (Nitrogen)

B / G

Twigs, bark, straw, paper bags, shredded newspaper or anything brown, like unbleached filters, cardboard ~ cut or ripped

Kitchen scraps, grass clippings, leaves, trimmings,

1:1 or     2:1

Start with “Browns” and layer up, alternating “Green & Brown”.  When you add kitchen waste (“Green”) , cover it

with a layer of “Brown” if possible.  

This helps aerate the pile, aids in decomposition, and keeps the pile from getting too wet.    Brown keeps down insects and smell also. 

About ½ dry, ½ wet. or 2:1.

     What to do if …

…the pile isn’t decomposing

 add Greens

 

…the pile is too wet, or slimy

 add Browns

 

…the pile is too dry

 sprinkle with water

 

 

     Basic Composting Materials:

YES

 Kitchen refuse, coffee grounds & filters, crushed egg shells. 

 

NO

 Meat, bones, foods high in salt or fat.

 

Bin can sit, undisturbed, for slow composting, or can be turned weekly with a cost turning tool, pitchfork or shovel

Aerobic composting is wanted, so air needs to get to the pile from vents, top, or by turning. Turning will create higher temperatures & quicker decompostition.

 

 

 

      The following is a chart listing common composting materials

Type of Material

Use it?

Carbon/ Nitrogen

Details

Algae, seaweed and lake moss

Yes

N

Good nutrient source.

Ashes from coal or charcoal

No

n/a

May contain materials bad for plants.

Ashes from untreated, unpainted wood

Careful

Neutral

Fine amounts at most. Can make the pile too alkaline and suppress
composting.

Beverages, kitchen rinse water

Yes

Neutral

Good to moisten the middle of the pile. Don’t over-moisten the
pile.

Bird droppings

Careful

N

May contain weed seeds or disease organisms.

Cardboard

Yes

C

Shred into small pieces if you use it. Wetting it makes it easier
to tear. If you have a lot, consider  recycling instead.

Cat droppings or cat litter

No

n/a

May contain disease organisms. Avoid.

Coffee ground and filters

Yes

N

Worms love coffee grounds and coffee filters.

Compost activator

Not required, but ok.

Neutral

You don’t really need it, but it doesn’t hurt.

Cornstalks, corn cobs

Yes

C

Best if shredded and mixed well with nitrogen rich materials.

Diseased plants

Careful

N

If your pile doesn’t get hot enough, it might not kill the organisms,
so be careful. Let it cure several months, and don’t use resulting
compost near the type of plant that was diseased.

Dog droppings

No

n/a

Avoid.

Dryer lint

Yes

C

Compost away! Moistening helps.

Eggshells

Yes

O

Break down slowly. Crushing shells helps.

Fish scraps

No

n/a

Can attract rodents and cause a stinky pile.

Hair

Yes

N

Scatter so it isn’t in clumps.

Lime

No

n/a

Can kill composting action. Avoid.

Manure (horse, cow, pig, sheep, goat, chicken, rabbit)

Yes

N

Great source of nitrogen. Mix with carbon rich materials so it
breaks down better. Vegetarian animals.

Meat, fat, grease, oils, bones

No

n/a

Avoid.

Milk, cheese, yogurt

Careful

Neutral

Put it deep in the pile to avoid attracting animals.

Newspaper

Yes

C

Shred it so it breaks down easier. It is easy to add
too much newspaper, so recycle instead if you have a lot.
Don’t add slick colored pages.

Oak leaves

Yes

C

Shredding leaves helps them break down faster. They decompose
slowly. Acidic.

Sawdust and wood shavings (untreated wood)

Yes

C

You’ll need a lot of nitrogen materials to make up for the high
carbon content. Don’t use too much, and don’t use treated woods.

Pine needles and cones

Yes

C

Don’t overload the pile. Also acidic and decomposes slowly.

Weeds

Careful

N

Dry them out on the pavement, then add later.

Sod

Careful

N

Make sure the pile is hot enough, so grass doesn’t continue
growing.

 

The information above was taken from various on line sources and put together for Rebecca & Mike Bednar who are starting an outdoor composting bin!    1/3/10 Deanne Bednar                                                                      

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