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Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by NHLM, Nov 25, 2007.
What else besides grass cleippings do I need to add for a quailty compost?
Check This out...It was posted by a respected member of Lawn site
To Start Some leaves would add some carbon to that grass clipping pile.
Remember to make layers...and to keep moist...NOT Soaked.
And Welcome to the organic side...your making a very wise choice.
NHLM, it would be helpful to know what state you live in because composting is different in different areas.
It is about carbon to nitrogen ratios in composting. the ratio is 30 to 1 typically. Carbon comes from many sources, leaves, hay, straw.....brown stuff.
Nitrogen comes from green things, grass, kitchen scraps, trimmings from plants in the yard
Some people say to layer 4 inches of brown stuff and 1 inch of green stuff
make sure the pile is turned often, this is called aerobic composting, you want to promote the aerobic bacteria and fungi, they are the good guys
if it smells like ammonia it is turning anaerobic, not good
Hey Bill, What about for our State? What is special for us?
Good question, luckily in the mid-atlantic we have a long growing season and trees that give us a lot of inputs for composting. Our long warm season gives us the opportunity to compost 2 and sometimes 3 batches in a season.
Other areas have other considerations, the northeast has a short warm season but still a lot of inputs for composting. The southeast, Florida for instance has a really long growing season but not as much as far as inputs from deciduous trees. In the southeast arid areas they have very few inputs for composting and struggle to find large quantities to compost.
One of the main points I would like to get through is that local compost is the best. All of the same microorganisms that are local to the soil are also in the compost. A compost that is made in Florida may not give the same results in CT. It will still be a great carbon source but the microrganisms may not thrive because they come from such different areas.
What about composting in the winter? Can it be done and what needs to be done to ensure it heats up enough?
What to add to your compost pile? Any dead plant material will work. Grass clippings, leaves, vegetable scraps (tops, peels, etc), pulled weeds, pretty much anything that used to be a living plant. Coffee grounds are an excellent addition, as the sugars they contain get the microbes going. The only things NOT to put in are anything that would attract animals, like bones or meat scraps. My grandfather used to add egg shells to his too. Compost is not, contrary to popular belief, rocket science. Nobody checked the carbon ratios on the decomposing materials that have been feeding the red wood forests for the last few thousand years, and it all seems to be working out ok.
The key is to be patient. It takes at least a year for a compost heap to start putting out good quality material. It needs to be turned periodically, like say once a month or so. If you are in a period of no rain, toss some water on it to keep it moist. And that's about it. Finished compost should look like really good soil, nice an dark brown, almost black.