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Are all veg scraps created equal?

 
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So a little bit of backstory, I have built a large compost bin from pallets. I work as a chef cooking breakfast at a country home, but I also prep salads and lunches for hundreds of people each day.
I ride a motorbike, and I've found a reusable waterproof sack that fits nicely in my rucksack.
As I'm working I save up my veg scraps and I take a rucksack full home every day and Chuck it in my compost bin. The scraps are balanced with dead leaves and cardboard.

For my question:
Do some fruit/vegetable skins/peelings have more benefit to the finished product of the compost? Do different things pass on nutritional content and microvitamins/minerals in any way? Or are all scraps created equal and break down into basically the same sort of soil?

Why this question has come to mind:
I read an article years ago about regeneration of logged bourneo forest by dumping tons and tons of citrus peels and letting them decay. In the article the guy wrote that citrus peel is fantastic at composting down and bringing soil back to life. This is why I'm wondering....

I get a lot of carrot peel, squash and pumpkin skin, pineapple tops, lemon and orange peel, bell pepper cores and stems etc etc.... I have a wide range to choose from so to speak.
Because space is limited for me each day, if someone was to identify some types of scraps that make better compost than others then I can prioritise taking these types home. So far I have just been trying to create as diverse a mix as possible (courgette ends one day, onion peel the next day, sometimes eggshells, sometimes fruit skin etc...)

Any information vaguely on topic is greatly appreciated.
Thanks in advance and happy composting, all.
15752018929065542070401887124991.jpg
food-scraps-make-good-compost
 
pollinator
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Very interesting question. I bet it has a complex answer with lots of "it depends".

I'm using all sorts of veggie waste in my compost making. Since I'll use everything and anything, I haven't been able to determine if one thing is better than another for my soil type. I do notice that coffee grounds helps my soil quite a bit.
 
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Good question, and I'd like to know what others who're more familiar with the process have to say.
I'd assume it depends on what the scraps are, how they're broken down in the process, and what is being grown with the compost. It seems like whatever nutrients/vitamins/minerals/etc are in the scraps would be found in the compost since they can't simply disappear. Then it seems like the crops which are able to use/mine those things would uptake them while growing.
The part I'm unsure of is how the microbial (or bacterial/fungal) process affects them. I suppose things like the sugars would be consumed and further broken down to a lower level. Then things like oil in citrus peels would probably not be useful to a plant like kale... But I truly don't know how it works on a molecular level.
 
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My instinct is that you want as much diversity in inputs as reasonable with a compost pile. Each of the particular items will offer a slightly different compliment of minerals, cellulose, moisture, etc.. so to get to a balanced finished product you would want a balance of inputs. Beyond just switching it up what you set aside to bring home every day the other major consideration seasonally might be moisture content, you may want to bring home more of the wet stuff during your dry times of year and more of the drier stuff during the wet times of year, although I'm not certain how much of a difference that will really make. In general though, it seems that having a diversity of inputs is the best approach.
 
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hau Samuel, veggie scraps are a gold mine for building good compost but there are some things to know when you are building that wonderful black gold.

All vegetables are not created equal, different nutrients and even different parts of a vegetable will have differing amounts of that veggie's components, so things like apple peels will not have the same vitamins or quantities of those vitamins as the interior of the apple.
Carrot peels have more beta carotene than the core of the carrot. Same goes for most of the veggies, lettuces and other greens are the exception to this.

We have several methods to make use of the goodies we find in vegetable "left overs" the first is simply making a good compost heap just as you are doing. The second is to use worms to process those veggies into castings then we have a choice of using the castings directly or using them as a composting addition.
We also have the bokashi method of anaerobic breakdown followed by aeration and tea brewing.

My recommendation is to not worry about things at the molecular level (they take care of themselves in the presence of bacteria and fungi) but to concentrate on which method(s) you have chosen to use.
Veg matter needs balancing with carbon, the ratio is 1 (veg) : 3 (carbon) for a very basic but rich compost.
Adding some known bacteria and fungi once the heating up is finished really helps break down everything that is left from the heat up and cooling down of the heap.
Moisture (when using lots of veg as you have mentioned) won't be as great a concern when it comes to drying out of a heap, it is a concern when first starting the heat up since heat will cause an expulsion of moisture from the veg scraps.

Citrus oils are not harmful to most bacteria, they tend to act as a matrix for travel within the heap where the oils follow the orders of gravity which will create a layering effect within the heap which is a good thing at that stage of decomposition.
All in all, you have a wonderful opportunity for building the soil inside your garden beds, just use a scaled down windrow type of compost heap, when it is finished it is time to plant. a

Redhawk

** using one of the really good bacteria and fungi addition products will speed up the decomp process and that will give you finished compost in far less time than waiting for the airborne spores to land, sprout and populate.
using some mycorrhizae containing product (elsewhere I mention my favorite) right at the end of the composting process will help the plant roots where you make use of this compost.
Spoiled or out of date dairy products will add in several different species of bacteria/ molds/ and fungi in some cases.
When we make compost the more microbiome we can include to the heap, the better the compost and the leachate will be for soil, microbiome and plants.
 
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There are sites which suggest some veggies have a higher risk of contamination from pesticide residues. Should the OP take that into consideration?
 
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I don't know the answer to your question, but I do know that more of everything is always the right answer when it comes to composting materials.
 
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Don't know if this question is in the correct thread, but...
I have a compost pile, of sorts, in the back of my yard.  Originally I dumped all my veggie scraps on it, for about four years, as well as dead/dying plants and twigs I picked up.  It never really looked like the rich, developed compost I've seen pictures of, and I can't say it really helped my garden beds.

Now, during the warm months, I toss my food scraps into covered five gallon buckets, and after it's full and has marinated a few weeks, I get DH to dig a hole and pour it in.  Lots of stinky liquid, chunks of carrots, orange peels, apple cores, etc.  (I used to run the marinated scraps thru an old food processor so it would  break down faster, but it was a time-consuming and very smelly process, so I gave it up.)  Do you all think burying that gross stuff, as my family calls it, is actually doing my gardens good, or are the big pieces of peppers, potatoes, lettuce, apple cores, etc. taking so long to break down that it's not enriching the beds all that much?
 
Emilie McVey
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Also, now on the back pile is probably 30" of clay that husband dug up while putting in a drainage pipe, covered with thick-ish branches and garden remains/trimmings. Lots of wild geraniums, weeds, a couple varieties of squash and a couple tomato plants have shown up, and the aggressive blackberry vines also seem to like it.  How long do you think it will take a good two feet of branches to decompose?  And will it improve the 30" of clay so that it is usable?
 
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My main consideration is/are the wormies in the heap.
For this reason I do NOT compost citrus. The worms do not like it. And it goes mouldy really, really fast if it is either humid or rainy.
What the worms do love is the other fruits. Especially soft ones like bananas, kiwi fruits, guava etc. So they would be my very first pick.
I would also suggest getting some manure into the compost beds, to really bring in the worms to eat all your lovely fruits.
The other thing to avoid is onion. For some reason the wormies do not like that either.
Maybe it makes their breath smell bad.......
Veg are good, I do not have any particular favourites, like I do with the fruits, just going with what is available.
Coffee grounds for sure. They smell fantastic and are clean to handle.
Happy composting from autumn New Zealand. Today I harvested fresh kelp from the ocean, and added it to a broth from umani flavouring. Also driftwood for the bottom of "hugelkultur" beds. Hugshugs, Janette
 
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Revitalized old post.  Writing to comment on the stinky compost.  It smells because it is too wet; it is anaerobic.  Anaerobic bacteria are not the ones you want.  The stinky compost will have to dry out and become populated with aerobic bacteria before it is useful.  Actually, before it is not harmful.
The solution is to also put in dry carbonous material when filling the bucket---to balance the wet nitrogen rich vegies.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Emilie McVey wrote:Don't know if this question is in the correct thread, but...
I have a compost pile, of sorts, in the back of my yard.  Originally I dumped all my veggie scraps on it, for about four years, as well as dead/dying plants and twigs I picked up.  It never really looked like the rich, developed compost I've seen pictures of, and I can't say it really helped my garden beds.

Now, during the warm months, I toss my food scraps into covered five gallon buckets, and after it's full and has marinated a few weeks, I get DH to dig a hole and pour it in.  Lots of stinky liquid, chunks of carrots, orange peels, apple cores, etc.  (I used to run the marinated scraps thru an old food processor so it would  break down faster, but it was a time-consuming and very smelly process, so I gave it up.)  Do you all think burying that gross stuff, as my family calls it, is actually doing my gardens good, or are the big pieces of peppers, potatoes, lettuce, apple cores, etc. taking so long to break down that it's not enriching the beds all that much?



Clay needs to be under the composting materials so leachate can percolate through and change the structure (by fungal clumping)  of the superfine particles (clay). Burying fermenting veg. Is along the thinking of the Korean method, which works well. It also is similar to first people's corn planting method. Kudos to you.

Redhawk
 
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My response is primarily to Emily. My answer is--it's all good! All veggie scraps will benefit your soil, whether you put them in an official compost bin, throw them in a heap, or dig them in like you described. As for improving clay soil, I add SAND as well as organic matter and what I do is create about ten compost piles, some of which are piles of half rotted logs and fallen branches at the edge of the woods. We have a pisseria in which we collect all our pee. Every few days I dump it on whichever pile has its turn. this adds a big shot of nitrogen to speed decomposition, especially important for the woody piles, which take a number of years to turn to compost. after four or five years I put the pile beside itself, exposing the finished compost at the bottom. The OP has a rare situation in which this question makes sense--when I read the title I thought, that's ridiculous, just use all of it! But he has to carry stuff on a bike, so may as well select whatever is most beneficial. my guess is that variety is best.
 
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My compost seems to do better when I start dumping lots of spent greens from my garden - pea plants, broccoli leaves, kale, lettuce that went to seed etc. So for that reason I'd recommend green stuff. It disappears very quickly though and a full compost bin quickly shrinks to not much at all. So for that reason maybe your limited space is better served with something that has more bulk to it.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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It is important to add browns (carbon) any time you make an addition of green matter such as vegetables, grass, fresh cuttings, etc. If you don't then you will end up with nothing that is compos.

Redhawk
 
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As others noted, a variety of contributions to the compost pile is good. It's important to not let the carbon/nitrogen level get too lopsided, but I don't treat my pile as a chem lab experiment. If you grind what goes into it, almost any plant material can be added, but otherwise keep out hard and woody stuff (avocado pits, twigs, anything that takes years to rot).

Aeration is essential to help the rotting along and avoid the anaerobic (pig shit) stench. A shallow layer of twigs at the bottom of the pile can help, as can using a metal rod or strong pole to open channels through the pile. Add what's available that maintains a viable C/N ratio and won't make the pile soggy. (No jars of old canned pickles like we dumped one time, quickly creating the stinkiest pile ever.)
 
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:It is important to add browns (carbon) any time you make an addition of green matter such as vegetables, grass, fresh cuttings, etc. If you don't then you will end up with nothing that is compos.

Redhawk



I know this is the way to go.  My problem is that I never have enough “brown.”
I used to have 2 acres from which to gather compost material, and I still had problems collecting enough brown. Now I find myself in town with a very small yard,  most of which is in the process of being transformed into food garden.  But nowhere are there, or will there be, browns lying around through the year waiting to be added to compost each time I add greens.  

So: Where are people getting all this brown? It rains all winter here and everything stays green. Do people go and buy their browns? When the rain ends I generally leave piles of weeds, etc, to dry and count them as browns, but it’s still not enough.  (And so far this year, the rain is refusing to end.)

I don’t like shredding cardboard or paper bags. If I were just composting for ornamentals I might not care.  But without knowing what residues are in or on paper products, they are not going in with my  food plants.  I generate a LOT of vegetable scraps, not just from garden waste, but also from my own food processing. I rarely buy canned or frozen vegetables and fruits or products made from them (eg salsa, jams, pickled items, etc). I prepare and preserve my own, so, lots of scraps.

This is what I do, for better or for worse
1.  I have a worm farm. They are kind of like pets. They get fresh scraps from the kitchen, or fruits and vegetables from the garden that nobody wants to eat. I do not give them citrus or onion, or any animal product except a few ground eggshells for grit. They must like it ok because I have never had to add more worms. In fact sometimes I grab a couple handfuls and rehome them to other areas of the garden I am working to improve. As regards the question that started this thread, the worms plow through the squishy stuff fastest.  Pineapple tops take a long time. Watermelon rind, less time.  Tomato, apple core, any kind of thin skins, greens, really fast.
2.  I direct bury.  Both in the ground and in my larger (tall and wide) planters. It really doesn’t take long for the stuff to disappear (that is, if I dig there in a few weeks, there is no evidence of the scraps).
3. I don’t have enough space for a proper compost heap.  So I use one of those black composters that turn using a handle and let the sun help to heat it.  (Yes, it’s plastic. I know.  I had to talk myself into it.  I’m still on the fence about it.).  Whatever browns I scrounge or create go there, as well as citrus, onions, weeds, and any other scraps.   It takes a lot longer, but I am patient.  After all.  I have worms.

Oh: and in each planter, whether it is 8x4 and 3 feet high, or just a big clay pot, each is treated to a mass of windfall wood and sticks before the soil goes in. The plants seem to like it, and it extends the time between watering without drowning the roots.


But really. The browns. Do most people get their browns from their own place, or must they go buying or begging?  In places where it rains a lot? And most of the trees and shrubs are evergreen? I put windfall sticks and limbs directly into the beds and planters. So, I’m talking other browns.   To make 3x the greens.

* It’s not that I have no brown.  Just not that order of magnitude. I have learned, however, to keep a small supply handy for rapid intervention should the fruit flies begin to gather around the wretched composter,  a harbinger of worse things to come.
 
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L Anderson wrote: Where are people getting all this brown?


I live in a similar situation: we have *very* few deciduous trees, they drop at random times, there are no bags of leaves out on curbs. Hay costs money, no straw here, I quite frankly don't have the time to shred as much paper to match my greens even if I wanted to. Occasionally I can get a carload of sugarcane bagasse, which is awesome, but I need to dry it in the yard and then run it through the chipper. And like you, I often feel here that the rain will never stop, which throws a wrench in that.
Like you, I've adapted to my environment.
I do trench composting, but the best solution for me has been two rabbits to eat the greens and a bokashi bucket for whatever they won't eat. Their leftover stems, branches, mango pits, etc all get shredded and mixed with the finished bokashi for its final fermentation into compost (in a barrel with some dirt and the rabbit bedding and a bunch of worms, takes about 2-3 weeks). Small space, easy to deal with, no vermin problems (I'm in an urban setting).
 
Bryant RedHawk
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In your situation the bokashi method would work better and you will end up with a better garden production. The method has been used in Korea and Japan for centuries. You just have to dump it back and forth in buckets to add o2 before you spread it on the soil or trench it in. You could, as an option trench the left over veg directly into the garden in the off season, should you have one.  

Redhawk
 
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I was going to quote the same statement from Dr. Redhawk! I too am struggling with browns.

1. Some years I am lucky enough  to get leaves that fall in a concentrated enough area (rather than blown a kilometer away by coming down in high winds), but the only reliable source are Big Leaf Maple. It gets that name for a reason! Even adding a thin layer to a chicken operated compost, I found it went anaerobic by creating a solid mat between whatever was there before adding and whatever got added after.

2. Hay is pricey here, but it's also not really a "brown". If it was, it wouldn't feed animals. Straw *is* a brown, but it's even pricier! I have been trying to make my own straw by planting some small patches of wheat. I need a different straw crop or different planting system with weather weirding. The rains have been coming earlier in the fall so the last 2 times I tried to fall plant, it got eaten by bugs faster than it could grow. I tried in Feb this year, and out of more than 200 seeds, I think 4 germinated - we had twice February's average rainfall this year.

3. I can get large quantities of brown paper or cardboard. How much of an issue do we think residual chemicals are in brown paper? I'm sure there are some, but the trees shouldn't have had huge amounts of nasty stuff around them (yes, some aerial spraying is done in my country, but compared to the size of a tree, does anyone know how bad it is likely to be?) It's a waste stream at least.

4. We chip and shred a certain amount of downed branches from our own property and some friends. Most of this goes to animal bedding. From there, I do transfer some of it to my compost, but the issues are: A) I'm now adding more nitrogen - not easy to judge how much more compared to the volume of wood chips. B) wood chips have a lot of lignin. My understanding is that only certain critters will break down lignin and they take a long time to do so. So are the wood chips actually adding useful browns if I need carbon *now*? C) As already mentioned, wood takes a long time to decompose - maybe - in my wet climate, it's faster than in some places. Since partially decomposed wood acts like a sponge to hold water in my garden, the real issue with wood is that supposedly it will lock up the nitrogen so plants won't grow so well. Really? My problem is too much nitrogen, isn't it? So should I stop fretting and let my nose be the judge?

5. Saw dust - basically a smaller version of wood chips. Will smaller mean it will decompose faster? I do try to add sawdust and biochar to the bag when I need to bury a dead bird in the hope that any liquid/smell of the decomposition will be absorbed and composted and not run off.

6. Coffee sacks from a local organic coffee importer. These are purchased, but are $20 Canadian for 150 or more, so quite affordable (4'x7' trailer 1 ft deep). They do decompose, but they are closed with a nylon stitching at one end which I religiously remove because it does *not* decompose. They are supposed to be organic. They are great for putting down in the brooder when Hubby gets meat chicks. I use them to line nest boxes for the chickens with wood chips on top. I use them on paths to make our clay less slippery in the winter. If they're the best I can do for "brown" in my compost, should I be taking the time to cut them up small enough to use them? They don't have to be super small, but larger than 6"x6" may make it difficult if they don't decompose as fast as everything else and I need to shovel it around. If that's the best of the options I've listed above, maybe sticking them in whole with greens in between would simply mean that I leave the compost until they've broken down.

As Tereza and L have said, finding browns is a problem for some of us. I've got an old gardening book, and the author specifically encouraged people to "grow browns", but the two he mentioned were wheat and corn and I haven't had much luck with either in my climate. What other "browns" might be easy to grow in the Northern Pacific Wet Coast?
 
L Anderson
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Tereza Okava wrote:

L Anderson wrote: Where are people getting all this brown?



I do trench composting, but the best solution for me has been two rabbits to eat the greens and a bokashi bucket for whatever they won't eat. Their leftover stems, branches, mango pits, etc all get shredded and mixed with the finished bokashi for its final fermentation into compost (in a barrel with some dirt and the rabbit bedding and a bunch of worms, takes about 2-3 weeks). Small space, easy to deal with, no vermin problems (I'm in an urban setting).



Wonderful! I have not heard of bokashi! Thank you. I am so pleased to have a new potential solution to research.  Something new to learn.
 
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Hi. I'm with the "all vege scraps are good" school, together with all the necessary brown stuff. I put wet cardboard boxes through my shredder, together with lots of plant twigs, branches and leaves. I pick out any plastic strips as they appear for separate disposal. Shredded paper waste is collected from our hen nest area when it has been well added to by their droppings.  I also water the heaps with my collected urine and worm farm liquor.
The final mix is cold composted for a good month or two in several beds, before use.
 
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I am in an apartment urban setting so much of my composting is "stealth".  I drive around and rake up sidewalk leaves.  You have to time it so they are dryish but not wait so long that the city sucks them into a street sweeper.  People either just give an odd look or are grateful.  I use the leaves for "mulch" under the landscaped bushes.  It makes the view bare enough the landscaping guy leaves it alone, and it makes soil I can surreptitiously rake up.   Another thing I was surprised to find is that pure pine needles on the fine twigs actually make beautiful black soil.  My city prides itself on being a Tree City,  There are conifers every where, mostly Douglas Fir which is a "weed" tree that has taken over the well managed indigenous savannas historically here.  I was putting deep layers of conifer twigs next to my cement patio to walk barefoot to the hummingbird feeder.  It turned the over mowed(even when no grass anyway. I haven't figured that out) over mowed, packed down, very fine, bare ?silt? into lovely black grow anything soil.  Now I have to remove weeds to avoid attention.  There is some kind of outlast humanity type plastic mesh very near to the surface so I just use a shovel held flat to barely behead anything that peeks up and flip it to cover with the top layer of needles. No bending over, no hauling damp buckets of green stuff. If you have a source for conifer needles, even just one tree puts out a lot and people rake it up & throw it out.  = 0. Experiment with conifer twigs/needles as a "brown". My alkaline loving flowers like it so I'm not seeing that infamous acid problem.  Any juicy wet veggie trims go into the stealth leaf/wood shaving(guinea pig bedding) pine twig pile waa-ay back in the dark unused corner of the complex.
 
leigh gates
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So, before I rambled on I was just going to say there's a whole lot of sidewalk leaves out there.  My little bitty 2 door geo metro thinks it's a truck.  I can usually beat the cleaner crew to the bus  stop shelters, the leaves pile in the leeward corners. Lots of leaves for very little raking.  I do have to pick up a few cig butts but that's minor.
 
gardener
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Where I live in the Indian Himalayas, it is extremely arid desert so biomass is in short supply. Straw is, in fact, fed to the cattle, the local hardy breed, not to the Jerseys that are also kept here. Sticks that are much thinner than you'd consider fuel wherever you live are used in cooking stoves, where thin sticks allow quick control of the fire.

I've only found two kinds of biomass free for the taking, and recently starting getting a third kind.

It's a cold winter climate so deciduous trees lose their leaves in autumn, and since virtually all greenery is irrigated with small canals and the leaves clog the canals and cause problems, people tend to rake them up and burn them. So I bought 8 huge sacks (like 4 or 5 feet tall) and asked a neighbor to fill these sacks for me instead of burning his leaves. I dump a few sacks down the composting toilet or on perennial beds for mulch, and take the empty sacks back so I can get more than 8 sacks of leaves per year. The leaves work better if crumbled. After a couple months in the sacks they are much more dry and brittle so I can stomp and dance on a sack to crumble it to about 1/4 the size it was originally when tightly packed intact leaves.

Another source of biomass is sawdust and shavings from local lumberyards and carpentry workshops. In winter they can sell this stuff as heating fuel, but in summer it is a waste product, and a few years ago a neighborhood with many of these workshops together suffered a devastating fire so they're happy when I want to take this dangerous waste product away in summer. I mostly use it in the composting toilet. The bigger shavings and chips in the first batch out of the toilet hadn't decomposed very thoroughly, so now I'm trying to improve it for the future. I water the sacks of sawdust/shavings and mix them with crumbled leaves so they will at least start breaking down before I even use them as cover material in the toilet (learned this from the wonderful Humanure Handbook).

The local town I live outside of is a popular tourist town, and good coffee has been booming in popularity in India the past few years, so last summer and this, I've been collecting coffee grounds from a few cafes. I've got 5 cafes all clustered around one corner, one them being a national chain and the others smaller but owned by friends of mine. So I've been bringing coffee grounds to mix in the damp sawdust, hoping that helps it break down a little more before winter. I am pleased that the grounds from those all-in-one espresso machines are very dry, so they are easier to transport than I had feared.

In my worm bin and food-compost bin, currently what I'm using for browns is the incompletely decomposed woody material that was removed from the compost toilet last year.
 
Mary Cook
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I have generally thought the problem is finding enough green stuff...these days I get that from early spring through harvest time mostly in the form of weeds, and I don't worry about browns but do throw in any sticks, stalks (I've learned to clip corn and sorghum stalks and sweet potato vines into foot long pieces, to make turning the pile easier). I also dump the occasional sack of leaves in, and chicken and goat manure which comes with lots of bedding (mostly hay). I would like to have pine needles, mostly to mulch my strawberries, but don't have a concentrated pine stand to supply them. I do rake and bag and haul  fallen leaves from half a mile of lane; I used to chop them with a lawnmower but now someone with a leaf shredder she never uses, has given it to me on indefinite loan. So in the fall on sunny days (we have off-grid solar) I run bags of leaves through that. But these don't go into my composts, and I don't spare much as mulch for my flowerbed--I fill two, now three, chickenwire cages about three feet across and four feet high. They pack down and are topped off a couple times. It takes a year to turn into leafmold, (two years if left whole) which I add to garden beds I'm preparing in fall for the next spring. It's hard to have enough--I find it's even better than compost. I try to make sure all carrot and brassica beds get leafmold. I read once--I think Elliot Cole--that leafmold is a different process so you should do it separately from your main compost (which doesn't mean some leaves in your main compost hurt anything). Leaves are high carbon. But if you throw too many, especially whole leaves, into a pile at once they can pack down and prevent water from getting through. carol Deppe says dumping urine on leaves surely can't hurt, so I include my leaf bins in my rounds with the pee bucket.
 
L Anderson
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leigh gates wrote:So, before I rambled on I was just going to say there's a whole lot of sidewalk leaves out there.  My little bitty 2 door geo metro thinks it's a truck.  I can usually beat the cleaner crew to the bus  stop shelters, the leaves pile in the leeward corners. Lots of leaves for very little raking.  I do have to pick up a few cig butts but that's minor.



This fall I will be scoping out fallen leaf opportunities. My move into town is recent.  It will be interesting  to see how many leaves will be available to round up, since around here falling leaves and windstorms happen together. At my old place I had 10 large fruit trees in a little orchard and a couple of big leaf maple in the pasture, but what actually stayed on my ground long enough for me to pick up was surprisingly sparse.

Naturally this fall  I will get what I can. Until then, I have a lot of veg scraps …..

I think the bokashi suggestion is the way for me to go for managing the wet stuff that comes from the kitchen and the garden, and it looks like something I can do even with a very small yard.

PS: given my small scale these days, I don’t even have a very high need for a lot of compost. Natural fertilizer, yes. But it doesn’t necessarily need to be in the form of compost per se. Most of my veg are growing in containers  (fruit is in the ground, of course).  I am no longer able to plant and care for row crops in the ground.  So I need some, but not big amounts.
But because I use and preserve fresh produce, (not all comes from my garden - we have good farm markets). I generate a whole lot of kitchen scrap and don’t want to send it to the landfill - to squander perfectly good nutrients while exacerbating the crisis of what is to be done with all that trash.

PPS and maybe if the bokashi works out, I will be freed from the wretched black composter to process what my worms cannot!
 
Tereza Okava
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L, a few of us described our bokashi setups here https://permies.com/t/78784/Bokashi-Composting , you might find it helpful. (there are other threads too, but this one springs to mind first)
 
L Anderson
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Tereza Okava wrote:L, a few of us described our bokashi setups here https://permies.com/t/78784/Bokashi-Composting , you might find it helpful. (there are other threads too, but this one springs to mind first)



Thanks!
 
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Two comments, hope they help.
~ I keep a gallon container (with a stink proof lid!) in the kitchen sink. All things non-animal go in there. When it’s full, about every other day, I dump it in a five gallon bucket (again with a stink proof lid!) right outside. That fills up about once a week or so.
Everything gets chopped up as tiny as possible. The difference in breakdown speed is remarkable. I used to find lemon peels and avocado skins that never did break down, just tough like a piece of leather. Once I got into the habit of chopping it all, it’s highly unusual to find anything recognizable after it’s composted. And it heats up and finishes much faster. Egg shells are another one that needs an extra step. If I remove the inner membrane before crushing them, not only do they crumble up loosely, they actually compost instead of hanging around in the piles and beds for years. That membrane is actually a protective, anti-bacterial that keeps eggs from rotting.

All this chopping up gets done while I cook, and doesn’t really take much extra time.

I don’t worry about the anaerobic nature of sealed containers while accumulating scraps. Once they get dumped in the compost piles, and mixed with drier stuff, it’s off to the races.

~ Browns. One source that works very well during the green seasons when I’m not getting leaves, is horse bedding. 40lb sack of compressed pellets of pine sawdust for about $5 at Tractor Supply. Only a few handfulls layered in with greens is all it takes to get it heating up. If you’re mowing grass, and composting the
clippings, the horse bedding pellets help keep it from making slimy anaerobic mats.

But I use grass clippings as mulch in a lot of
areas to smother weeds...

Ok, three things.

~ Squash. We grow and eat a lot of it. But I got tired of volunteers everywhere. Squash seeds can go through a full composting cycle, including up to 170 degrees f. and still remain intact and viable. So unless I plan on salting and roasting them to eat, squash seeds go in the woods for the chipmunks. Never in my compost. Of course, the Alvins will plant some, but oh well. I just don’t want them taking over my garden beds, except where I want squash vines.
 
Mary Cook
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Hmm. Both eggshells (rinsed and crumbled into small bits) and eggshells get fed to my chickens so squash  volunteers are rare for me, and I haven't ever seen recognizable eggshells in my compost from the few eggshells I don't feed my chickens. I never thought browns were needed to speed decomposition--rather to prevent funky smells. But your post made me think of the two huge piles of wood chips my neighbor had dumped at the crossroads. This is woodchips, not sawdust, but they've been there about three years. I could probably take a bucketful to dump on my compost sometimes...the tree cutting people are happy to dump their chopped wood at your place, saves them getting rid of it, if you spot their truck on your road. I did this some years ago, but messed up in my choice of location--it had other merits but was on the edge of woods, and once it had decomposed for a few years and I tried to collect the result, I found tree roots had thoroughly infiltrated the piles and made it too hard to extract much compost. Same thing happened the first time I tried making leafmold in the woods, to test whether shade versus sun worked best for that. I now have THREE rings a yard across in which chopped leaves turn to leafmold in a year, but the one in the woods, the nearby trees ate the leafmold.
Thing about woodchips is they take years to decompose--but those years do pass, and then you have a big pile of nice compost, probably especially good for woody plants. (A good book and great read is Teaming With Microbes, i don't remember the author.)
 
Jeff Peter
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Mary Cook wrote:Hmm. Both eggshells (rinsed and crumbled into small bits) and eggshells get fed to my chickens so squash  volunteers are rare for me, and I haven't ever seen recognizable eggshells in my compost from the few eggshells I don't feed my chickens. I never thought browns were needed to speed decomposition--rather to prevent funky smells. ......

...


Hi Mary,

I wish I had chickens, but my faithful canine unfortunately has too high of a prey drive.


Regarding the need for browns/carbon to get a pile hot, I worded that awkwardly. Yes, a pile of grass clippings will get very hot, but without carbons, will go anaerobic.
The same grass clippings layered with browns, and aerated/turned, breaks down, stays aerobic and doesn’t stink.

Horse bedding pellets serve that purpose when abundant browns are harder to find, but one could also use hay or straw.

Leaves work as a source of browns, of course, unless you’re piling them up and leaving (no pun intended) them to turn to leaf mold. I do both because I am blessed with a lot of leaves!
 
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