Need browns suggestions

tio2girlJuly 19, 2009

I'm new to composting, but it is clear that I need to bulk up my browns content. The majority of material going into my compost pile (a scant week old) are green kitchen scraps and grass clippings. I'm also composting our used paper towels, but I don't have a ready supply of browns available - or maybe I'm overlooking something. We won't have leaves available for use until Fall.

So, two questions. First, can I use shredded newspaper as a brown source? Is newspaper safe if colored ink is used (on non-glossy paper)? Second, what browns do you compost?

Thanks for your help!

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lazy_gardens

Shredded paper, junk mail - it all works.

The alarmists will tell you to avoid colored or glossy because of heavy metals, but the printers switched to soy-based inks a long time ago because they didn't want to deal with the cleanup on the presses.

You can use dead leaves, shredded trees, and sawdust for "browns".

    Bookmark   July 19, 2009 at 6:29PM
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kqcrna(z6 SW Oh)

Straw is a good choice. One $7 bale lasts a long time for me.

Karen

    Bookmark   July 19, 2009 at 6:34PM
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petalpatsy(7b)

I like dryer lint for a brown. Polyester and synthetics don't really shed, so dryer lint is mostly cotton fibers and, in my house, probably some cat hair.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2009 at 9:47PM
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gjcore

petalpatsy said "I like dryer lint for a brown. Polyester and synthetics don't really shed, so dryer lint is mostly cotton fibers and, in my house, probably some cat hair"

I try so stay away from putting things in my mulch or compost that are manufactured. Most clothes come through a factory. I'd like to see an analysis of what is commonly found in dryer lint. I guess my google skills are failing me or the information isn't out there.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2009 at 11:09PM
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louisianagal(z7bMS)

I think your best bet is shredded paper, cardboard, and newspaper. Cereal boxes and other boxes, toilet paper rolls, and paper towel rolls, and paper towels and paper napkins, I also tear up paper plates if I use them. Whenever you can get leaves you can add them in. I take home any paper from work that I would normally throw away, and I add that to my paper shredder.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2009 at 11:19PM
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jbann23(6 RI)

The most concentrated brown I have available is sawdust. Just happen to have a furniture builder across the street. It's easy to handle and all those summertime greens get gobbled up quickly with no smell at all. Anybody near you that saws quite a bit of wood will gladly give away the dust as it costs just to throw it away. Give it a try.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2009 at 11:43PM
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joepyeweed(5b IL)

The primary brown components in my pile are shredded junk mail and straw.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 12:28PM
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diane_nj 6b/7a

Shredded junk mail, printer paper, newspaper, paper wrappings in packing boxes, paper bags, paper towels, cereal/cookie/cracker boxes.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2009 at 3:28PM
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greenbeans

other brown sources:
-pizza boxes (tear it up a bit)
-paper bags from fast food and the like
-hang onto paper towels and paper napkins you use throughout the day - for example, at work, it's not too hard to hang onto the paper towel you use to dry your hands in the restroom (I have a little box in my office at work, but before that I'd just put them in my backpack/purse). You'd be surprised how quickly they add up.
-lawn thatchings (or whatever you call the stuff you pull up after de-thatching your lawn)

    Bookmark   July 21, 2009 at 9:33PM
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lily313

It just occured to me that I might have a great source of browns, but am wondering about the ink on letterhead paper, both the letterhead printing itself as well as laser printer ink. Any opinions? And I'm definitely going to be saving my paper towels at work now - great idea!

    Bookmark   July 22, 2009 at 12:19PM
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sylviatexas1

Cardboard is good, & it's easy to tear up if you soak it first.

Bright inks used to be made with heavy metals, but now they're made with soy (cheaper as well as greener), so you can compost paper with colored ink.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2009 at 12:24PM
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takadi(7)

If you have a tree service near you, contact them and ask them to dump a truckload of woodchips. They'll gladly do it for free, and it saves them time and money as well.

Be careful that you don't get any wood that's infested.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2009 at 1:46AM
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jolj(7b/8a)

Last post was 7/24/09, it is 1/26/11 & I past more browns then one man can haul in a pick up truck in 12 hours.
That just the 6 mile trip home.
Leaves,leaves, leaves!

    Bookmark   January 26, 2011 at 7:11PM
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rott

..
Inks - I'm still wary of anything that might be printed overseas like the color inserts in sunday papers - anything that can be printed ahead of time.

Office paper - I use shredded office paper. I'm building up a terrible stock pile. Breaks down easier than newspaper. Office paper means toners from laser printers and photocopiers not inks. That means plastic. Toners are non-toxic but per almost the entire email I got from Xerox: 'the paper will break down but the toner will not.' That said, I still use the stuff. Some may not want to because toner is still plastic in the end. I no like plastic either.

Browns - see link; a list of materials with C:N ratios. Grass clippings are at the green end of the spectrum and sawdust the brown end. Check it out and see how what materials you might be able to scrounge up fit in the spectrum.

two cents
..

Here is a link that might be useful: On-Farm Composting Handbook

    Bookmark   January 28, 2011 at 2:33AM
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