Not enough browns

little-river-dog(5)October 7, 2011

So what's the worse thing that can happen if you have 3 bins full of wet green stuff and no browns? Does it take longer? What?

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val_s(z5 central IL)

The worse that can happen is it will get slimy and stink.


    Bookmark   October 7, 2011 at 9:00PM
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joepyeweed(5b IL)

Val is right - peee - yew!

The primary component of browns in my pile is shredded junk mail.

Leaf season will be upon us shortly, so you should have plenty of browns falling from the trees over the next few weeks.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2011 at 9:49PM
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scotty66(8 Hutto TX)

I piled up some lawn clippings and didn't get around to mixing in the browns for a couple days. grass is naturally wet/moist and the pile had a distinctive odor... but nothing bad. I had a big pile of leaves ready to add but I needed to run my mower over them first.
your description makes it sound like your added... which I would avoid (to an all green pile).
here are some suggestions for browns:

* Fall leaves
* Pine needles
* Twigs, chipped tree branches/bark
* Straw or hay
* Sawdust
* Corn stalks
* paper plates and napkins, coffee filters
* Newspaper, writing/printing paper,
* Dryer lint
* Cotton fabric
* Corrugated cardboard (without slick paper coating)

It's labor intensive, but you should be able to find enough cardboard and newspaper to meet your demands. and then start shredding :)

    Bookmark   October 7, 2011 at 11:42PM
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I did have a few of those things, just not nearly enough.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2011 at 11:43AM
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gardenz4evr(z7 MD)

It might also attract some undesirable visitors (i.e., rats, oppossums). I know there are many avenues to composting, but because I have very close (proximity) neighbors, I usually stop collecting greens if I don't have plenty of browns (shredded leaves for my pile--keeps the stink to a minimum) to go with it.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2011 at 1:10PM
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val_s(z5 central IL)

You're in zone 5 as am I. Go to friends or relatives house and rake their leaves. Sometimes that's easier than going up and down the neighborhood :-)

Also, in a pinch you can use straw. Lots of bales around cheap for the fall/Halloween season...or wait till after and get them free.


    Bookmark   October 10, 2011 at 7:07PM
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Please be advised that these all green slimy moist/wet piles can become a pile of maggots/flies very quickly. Been there, done that.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2011 at 11:39PM
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You can also use brown paper bags and toilet roll cores , cereal boxes as browns, collect them as you use them up.

Here is a link that might be useful: has a nice list for greens and browns here

    Bookmark   October 11, 2011 at 7:08AM
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kqcrna(z6 SW Oh)

my primary "browns" are leaves and straw. i also use shredded paper, cardboard, dead yard waste, newsprint...


    Bookmark   October 12, 2011 at 6:34AM
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Little river dog, any time your compost "stinks" it has become anaerobic. Anaerobic bacteria are not considered healthy for the soil or for the active aerobic bacteria. Use your nose to determine whether your compost is balanced. If you cannot incorporate more air into the pile (by adding more brown, etc.) at least turn the pile more often.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2011 at 1:15PM
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