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#114313 June 27th, 2005 at 06:54 AM
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Sorry, I noticed a few composting questions here, but haven't come across the answer I'm looking for. It's probably in one of the posts.
I'm doing something wrong with my composting. It takes forever to break down. I have a store bought composter, throw in grass, leaves and sometimes vegetable and garden scraps. I leave the top off, so it gets rain and use my poking tool so it gets oxygen. Last year, I did not use any of the soil off the bottom because I was sick, had surgery and was unable to do gardening. My husband was throwing grass in through the summer, and also grass mixed with chopped leaves in the fall. This spring I was hoping to use some of the compost, I found that although there was some soil in it, there was still too much leaves etc...that didn't break down. It's been two years since I've used compost and think it should all be broken down by now. I'm discouraged, what can I do to help speed the process up?

#114314 June 27th, 2005 at 06:59 AM
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Hi Daisy! My first thought is, it could be that you keep on adding stuff to the bin. At some point, I think you should stop adding to the bin so that whatever is in there can finish breaking down. May be you can put the kitchen scraps in a bucket or old plastic coffee container (this is what I do) until it's finished?

Are you watering it? Are the things going in the bin small pieces, or large chunks?

Don't get discouraged! You can do it! If I can, you can, believe me! wink

#114315 June 27th, 2005 at 07:44 AM
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Hi Mary, normally I do add to it, outside of last year, when my husband was adding grass etc..I try to break the matter up in smaller pieces. Sounds like a good idea to put kitchen scaps into a coffee can etc, but how do you do it without it reeking. Can it be covered and still decompose?
Mary thanks for the encouragement. I'll keep trying.

#114316 June 27th, 2005 at 07:54 AM
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Hi Daisy! Oh yeah, mine are closed. It will grow mold and look yucky like a science project LOL and of course you know that's a good thing! I use the plastic container that has an 'air tight' lid (yaknow, the ones they advertise hold the coffee smell in?) I drink a lot of coffee so I have a few of them if I needed more, but I usually empty it once every few days. I guess it depends on how many kitchen scraps you have. I just leave mine on the kitchen counter until I make the trip outside. If you stop adding to your pile and keep turning it, you should be able to use it in about 2 weeks from now.

I just reread your original post, and I must have missed earlier that you leave the lid open. You might want to keep it closed more often than not, since the heat of the decomposition process will help it along. wink

#114317 June 27th, 2005 at 08:08 AM
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How often do you turn it?

#114318 June 27th, 2005 at 11:24 AM
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Mary, thanks for the great advice. I'll try your suggestion and also put the lid back on the composter.

Bestofour, it gets turned when my husband does it, which isn't all too often. My husband turns it with a Garden Fork, but I use a composting tool that you push in, turn and pull up. It's not as good as turning it right over but it does help some.

#114319 June 27th, 2005 at 04:54 PM
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My first question has to be what is your green to brown ratio because that is how you heat the core and get the fast composting to happen. Weezie suggest 75% brown to 25% green and that certainly gave be very fast results. the 50/50 is not decomposing nearly as fast. I also found that as it heated up I had to really work at it to keep it moist.

#114320 June 28th, 2005 at 04:26 AM
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My ratio at this point is probably 75% green, and 25% brown. My husband keeps throwing in grass from the lawnmower bag. I just don't have enough brown kitchen scraps to keep up with that. We have brown leaves in there from last year, but they still haven't broken down? So maybe it's a little more than 25% brown.

#114321 June 29th, 2005 at 08:18 AM
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Daisy, I think you're confusing your browns & greens. wink Your kitchen scraps are greens, no matter what color they 'look'. A green is basically anything that was once alive (fruit, veggies, coffee (beans), tea (leaves), etc.) What I use for a majority of my browns is paper or cardboard. In the fall you can use leaves as your brown. If you get brown paper bags at your grocery store, you can shred those and use that for brown, too. It sounds like you may be overdoing the green, and grass will get matted, not letting air circulate which helps the compost break down, so it's really important to get some more brown in there - time to sort through that pile of papers you've been putting off for a rainy day! wink

#114322 June 29th, 2005 at 11:11 AM
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Mary, thanks for setting me straight. I still wonder, how about the chemicals used in the paper? Is it safe to throw paper in? The other question of confusion I have, leaves were green at one time as well, so why are they considered brown? Yes, it's true I have way too much greens in the composter. Sorry for driving you crazy with my questions and thanks for the advice.

#114323 June 29th, 2005 at 07:37 PM
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news paper is brown stuff i cut mine into small pieces and add it when i turn my pile dont use the shiny part of the paper. i also add worms to mine they help to break evrything down.your friend in gardening.mike57

#114324 June 29th, 2005 at 09:43 PM
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Mike, thanks for the reply? Just how small do you have to cut the newspaper into? Are 1" strips okay?

#114325 June 30th, 2005 at 05:54 AM
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YEP or tear them into small peices they dont have to be real small they will chop up just fine when wet and you chop and turn your pile also dryed grass clipings work as brown mater to just make sure its brown when you add it.your friend in gardening.mike57

#114326 June 30th, 2005 at 06:14 AM
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I did one inch squares sitting infront of the t.v. watching my favorite programs lol. I got very black fingers too.

#114327 June 30th, 2005 at 09:38 AM
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I generally rip stuff up as small as I can by hand, but I don't get crazy about it. Sometimes I add strips of paper, sometimes little bitty pieces...depends on how much energy I put into ripping wink Just remember the smaller the stuff is that goes in, the faster it can break down. wink

Oh, and to answer your ? about why dried leaves/grass are considered brown and not green - I did some reading, and apparantly once they dry out, their chemical composition changes, and they lose nitrogen (high amt in greens), but become a good source of carbon (high amt in browns) I hope that helps! wink

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Thanks all for being so enthusiastic. You all make composting sound like so much fun... I've never used newspaper in my compost before, so I'm kind of excited to add it, and see if it will make a difference.
Mary, thank you for explaining the difference between greens and browns. It makes good sense when you say it loses the nitrogen, but(here we go again) wouldn't that apply to all things that turn brown even though they were once green? (even kitchen scraps) or would they have to be dried first? Sorry, for being such a nuisance.

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Daisy - you're so NOT being a nuisance! I'm a beginner too - have learned so much already from this forum, and just excited to share what I learned wink I think it has to do with the browns being dry that make them browns...but don't quote me on that one laugh Composting is so much fun! I'm totally addicted, and glad to drag anyone in with me ...err... I mean, help anyone get involved LOL!


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