I have no browns!

nancyjane_gardener(Zone 8ish North of San Francisco in the "real" wine country)July 3, 2014

My daughter gave us trash service for a year. This included stuff from the garden!
I take the stuff, such as nasturtium, morning glory, rose clippings, etc out to a back corner of the field.
My neighbors have recently taken down their poplars, so I don't have the leaves to suck up anymore!
I'll have to get in touch with the new neighbors in order to suck up their maple leaves! LOL
I DO have tons of oak and some fruitless mulberry to work with! Nancy

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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

I don't know what 'trash service' is but if they are removing compostables from your property it is doing you a DISservice. Do you have no cardboard, no newspaper, no shredded office paper, no paper towels, Kleenex, coffee filters, TP middles .......? Any twiggy prunings are browns too. The garden waste is yours so I don't quite understand how they can take it if you don't give it to them ???

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 6:40AM
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If you leave grass cuttings in sun to dry a couple days then you got some browns.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 6:18PM
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It may be wrong to do for many reasons to actually buy browns that have had to be bagged and shipped but I have been short of browns as well and collecting all of my neighbors (Brown bagged, yay!) fresh grass clippings has left me short of browns. Lowes has a 'compost' - I think it's the Hapi-gro brand that says it is 'composted bark fines'. I would call it 'very fine grained hardwood mulch' - don't see any decomposition and when I spread it as mulch it looks like it was chopped yesterday.

Anyhow, since I have 3-4 bags of grass clippings each week from neighbors (you know I use a mulching mower of course!) and ran out of leaves I use a bag of that when my hot bin (converted municipal big trash bin) gets too 'green' or wet and this stuff is pretty dry so it isn't hard on my surgically repaired back. It balances things out very quickly and will dry up a sloppy wet bin and get it very hot in a couple days when there are lots of greens in there. The very fine chop means lots of surface area so it starts composting very quickly once mixed with sufficient water and greens.

Somewhat heretical to buy your browns but if you have to this stuff is perfect if you like your finished compost very fine like I do. If it dries things out before my neighbors produce more clippings I just add a couple gallons of liquid gold to enrich it and speed decomposition.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 2:55PM
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"If you leave grass cuttings in sun to dry a couple days then you got some browns"

ummm...no you don't actually. Dried out, fresh cut grass, is basically hay and it is considered a green.


    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 5:10PM
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What a wonderful, thoughtful gift from your daughter.

The oak leaves are fine, don't worry about it. Search this forum to unlearn the myth that oak leaves are gonna kill your stuff. LOL

I actually separate my yard debris. I compost tons, including all the kitchen waste except meat. The worms love my place. :) But stuff like branches, sticks, stickers, and bunches of laurel trimming from the hedges all go in the yard debris bin which luckily gets picked up once a week and I fill it completely. Lots and lots of trimming in an older, established garden.

I still have more compost than I can use in a normal fashion. I'm now having to fill gradually being built raised beds ( about three feet high once settled ) just to have a place to put the compost.

Less work letting the professionals deal with the sticks and stuff. I do buy a pick-up load of compost/mushroom compost mix each year or two because that I can have dumped in my driveway next to the tiny front yard. Easier to use it close by than haul from all the way back. That's not going to happen consistently, so I figure I can spend $28 ( cost of the pick up load) for the service of having all it done/ready and right where I need it. Heck, if I hired a young person to haul the compost from the back it would cost more than that $28.

Enjoy your new free time and thank your daughter again. :)

This post was edited by plaidbird on Fri, Jul 4, 14 at 17:43

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 5:36PM
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nancyjane_gardener(Zone 8ish North of San Francisco in the "real" wine country)

plaidbird Thanks....so sweet! Some off to the landfill and some my own compost! Nancy

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 1:34AM
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I compost leaves from live oak trees as my main brown. You can buy wheat straw pretty cheap if you need to resort to buying browns. I don't feel like I am a compost guru, but it does work for me. ;-)


    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 4:11PM
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nancyjane_gardener(Zone 8ish North of San Francisco in the "real" wine country)

Actually, I have noticed that the leaves are starting to fall! I'll be out there with my leaf vacuum in NO TIME!
And Floral, yes, I compost most of my household stuff, but got overwhelmed and the trash service helped us get caught up with stuff!
I like to use sucked up, ground up leaves and grass from the neighbor's house along with my kitchen waste for my compost. That way I have 2 batches per year!
There are some things I just don't want in my lazy compost piles that take too long or give me horrible things such as morning glories and nasturtiums!

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 9:17PM
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Call the city of Cleveland and tell them so send over some of their rotting football players! I hear they are flush with QB's that are to be thrown on the scrap heap!

That should fix you up in NO TIME!!! LOL!

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 3:04PM
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Since the neighbors took down their trees, do they still have the logs? If so, you could ask to burn them and use some ashes as browns.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 2:20AM
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Ashes are not browns. Browns are organic matter high in carbon, low in nitrogen such as leaves, straw, wood chips, sawdust, paper. Ash has virtually no organic matter and is mostly just minerals. It has a very high pH so if used in the compost as a mineral source, use it sparingly.

Where do you get your electricity? The electric utility may have a program to drop off free wood chips to customers. Call them and see if you can get on a list. A chip pile will very slowly break down and you can use some when you need it. Also makes dandy mulch.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 2:58PM
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nancyjane_gardener(Zone 8ish North of San Francisco in the "real" wine country)

Tox...our tree topper service that the utilities use to trim trees doesn't have a phone #!!!!!!! LOL
I hunted one down one day to give them my address cause we are in between town and the dump (saves gas, right?), but none spoke English! Apparently, they can't read a street sign either!
Maybe I'll try an independent tree service!
The leaves will be falling within a month! Nancy

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 10:58PM
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On the compost tumbler I bought, it listed ashes as browns. I guess I was misinformed. But then again, this site and others lists ashes as browns. Just don't use too much.

This post was edited by SequoiaMatt99 on Sun, Jul 13, 14 at 3:16

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 3:05AM
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Wouldn't football players be a green?

If you're really at a loss for browns, you can almost always scrounge up some newspaper (you don't need a shredder, just tear the pages lengthwise with the grain), & you can get cardboard at any store on the days they put out their new stock & break down the boxes.

If you soak cardboard in water for just a few minutes, it's much much easier to tear.

Some cities have mulch programs;
usually, you just go to the landfill or mulch station (love that term, "mulch station") & show a water bill & your driver's license indicating that you live inside the city limits, & you can get the mulch free.

Here, on certain days, they'll actually use the front-end loader to dump the mulch into your pick-up truck or onto your trailer.

wisht I had a pick-up truck and/or a trailer.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 10:31PM
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Ashes certainly aren't greens, but that doesn't make them browns. Browns and greens are subsets of organic matter and ashes aren't organic matter. I think most knowledgeable compost experts would agree that they don't fit in either category, same with soil, lime, or anything else that is essentially all mineral.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 10:31AM
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nancyjane_gardener(Zone 8ish North of San Francisco in the "real" wine country)

I only do a light dusting of ashes in the fall. Scares me! LOL
Sylvia, I don't live in town. There are many programs for people who live in a city, that us country folk can't take advantage of.....free low flow toilettes, composters, free led lights etc etc etc!
And here we are, NOT using city utilities such as garbage (we recycle almost everything),go to the dump every 6 months, water (comes from our own well), sewer (we spent thousands of $ for a mound system)
I have been using the garbage service, but since we are catching up, don't think we will continue. Nancy

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 9:27PM
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You should contact the city anyway and see if there are mulch sites you can use. We have two in my city (pop 100,000) and there is no one checking your address when you pull in. People drop off yard waste and pick up mulch freely. So don't assume you can't use it.

Re: tree crews who can't speak English: Type a note on your computer. "Hi, we can use wood chips, you can bring them to [address]. Our phone number is [ ]. Thank you and have a nice day!" Copy the text and Google "free online translator". Paste into the translator box and select the language. Copy and paste the result back into a document and print. Hand it to them. I'm kinda surprised there is no sign on the truck with a co. name and phone number? How does the utility get hold of them?

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 10:54AM
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nancyjane_gardener(Zone 8ish North of San Francisco in the "real" wine country)

tox, I think the utilities use the tree service exclusively!
I would think they would want places besides the landfill/compost place to save some gas, but who knows???? I've been trying to track them down for a couple of years!
And NOPE! You have to show a utility bill to use city freebies! Nancy

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 9:19PM
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Seems like someone at the utility would be in charge of overseeing and scheduling the tree trimming contractors. My rural elec. co-op has a person I can call to get on a list for free wood chip delivery. Turns out the tree guys are actually right down the road from me.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 11:07AM
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tropical_thought(San Francisco)

Tree services will give free browns in some areas, but not in my areas. If the tree has a fungus or something like sudden oak death you risk destroying your garden by carting in stuff. If you buy something that is sterile in a bag, that is the safe thing to do. I just want people to know. If I did not use both starbucks coffee and bagged wood, I would have almost no compost to speak of.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 12:35PM
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I doubt that any bagged mulch product is sterile, but I assume you mean 'free of disease'. It may be less likely to have diseased material in it, but there's no guarantee. The compressed pine chip livestock bedding my farm store sells looks very clean, likely from a sawmill, and I have no disease worries about that. With shredded limbs and yard waste, it's less certain.

One can ask the tree trimming crew. My rural electric co-op does not put already-dead or diseased trees into their chipper, specifically so they don't spread disease to other locations. The property owner has to dispose of that material themselves.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 11:49AM
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