Friday, May 20, 2011

More Compost Ingredients

Some people say making compost is difficult but I think they couldn't be more wrong.  Making compost is easy.  Gather some greens and browns, add some moisture, turn it to mix it up if you think about it and eventually you'll end up with compost.  It's microbial activity and decaying matter and it happens every day in nature.  No, composting isn't the hard part.  Coming up with enough organic materials is the hard part.  What do you do when the leaves aren't falling, there isn't enough grass clippings, and your kitchen scraps aren't cutting it?   What else can you use to fill your bin?  The following list has some common, and not so common brown and green materials.  This list isn't complete by any means, but you might see a thing or two that surprises you.
  • Browns:
Dead leaves, straw, corn stalks (shredded), shredded paper (newspaper or plain paper-not glossy), shredded documents and bills, pet hair, pine needles (may change ph levels, and is slow to decompose so I use them for raised bed material or mulch), saw dust & wood chips (from untreated wood), dried grass clippings, nut shells (avoid walnut shells), peat moss, wood ash, contents of the vacuum bag, lint from the dryer, stale bread & crackers, stale cereal, stale pasta, stale herbs and spices, coffee filters, egg shells, burlap sacks, cotton or wool clothing (cut in small pieces), cardboard (cut or torn in small pieces), wine corks (slow to decompose-better as mulch or for craft projects), nail clippings, those pesky crumbs on your kitchen counter
  • Greens:
Grass, shredded green leaves, deadheaded flowers and flower stems (cut into 1" pieces), kitchen scraps from fruits and vegetables, leftover cooked pasta (without meat, cheese or sauce), coffee grounds and tea leaves (large amounts may change ph level), sea weed (cut into 1" pieces), rotted manure, weeds (but watch for ones that don’t decompose well or that may have gone to seed)

I pour left over beer and wine in the compost bin.  Paul James (the gardening guy) says the yeast in beer is good for the pile and I figure the wine works about the same.  I don't know if there's any truth to this, but it's better than throwing it out. 

Getting enough stuff for your bin can be a challenge but the reward of finished compost makes it worth it.
Be well and happy gardening

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