Composting question

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by Eakern & Dog, Feb 12, 2007.

  1. Eakern & Dog

    Eakern & Dog LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 431

    I have a compost bin with mulched leaves and cool season grass clippings. I was wondering if anyone has used the "dormant" clippings of Bermuda that one gets when they "mow low" before the warm season spurts. I'm concerned if I add them to my compost bin they will rob the nitrogen content of the pile. Am I over thinking this and does anyone know if the dormant clippings are void of nitrogen ?
  2. Prolawnservice

    Prolawnservice LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 612

    Here's an easy formula for a productive compost pile, 3 parts browns to 1 part greens. If you add the clippings and they are brown try to add one third of that amount in something green. hope that helps
  3. upidstay

    upidstay LawnSite Bronze Member
    from CT
    Messages: 1,584

    The clippings aren't void of N if they're brown, just devoid of chloryphyll. Adding any organic matter to your compost bin is good. Sawdust gobbles alot of n when it decomposes (actually, the microbes that eat it do). I like coffee grounds, egg shells, grass, leaves, vegetable cooking waste. Pretty much anything Not animal-based (except manure).
  4. Eakern & Dog

    Eakern & Dog LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 431

    Thanks for the info folks
  5. Prolawnservice

    Prolawnservice LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 612

    So your saying dormant grass stores its nitrogen in its leaves? Would a green leaf on a tree have the same c:n as a brown one on the ground?
    The clippings are not void of N but the ratio changes, Its just a simple rule of thumb 3 parts brown to 1 part green, you cant go wrong.
  6. muddstopper

    muddstopper LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,341

    fresh cut green grass will have a C:N ratio of around 10-20:1 where as brown grass clipping would be around 100:1, big difference when building a compost pile. Sawdust, 500-600:1, dead leaf's 100:1, of course this all depends on the types of wood, leafs and grass. High C:N ratios will rob nitrogen from your compost pipe and decompose slowly. Low ratios decompose faster, but the finished product will contain less compost. The quality of the compost will be up to the quality of the materials you put in the pile. And there is nothing wrong with using manures in a compost pile. If the manure is composted properly, you wont have to worry about e-coli or salmonella or any other harmful pathogen. Manures are an excellent way to lower the c:n ratios in a compost pipe that contains mostly woody materials. The trick is to turn the pile often and keep the heat up in the pile. If you just dump the manure on top of the pile, you will have to worry about harmful pathogens.

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