Fresh leaves, weeds, plants for green composting?

tariqblazeDecember 18, 2013

I am aware that most things can be composted but I am not aware on how to do it right. There needs to be a balance of green to brown material. Brown material is clear but green material not so much. If grass clippings can be used for green material what about fresh grass just picked by hand? Or tree leaves freshly picked? Weeds and plants? Shrub leaves. Etc..Do all of these count as green material or is there some catch? Any green material that should be avoided such as poison leaves or certain types?

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klem1

Welcome to composting discussion tari . Much has been writen about the nessity of balancing browns and greens and you will find a lot of discussions here if you search. Despite all the hoopla,I have found the longer one composts,the less importance they attach to figuring ratios and instead put more energy into looking for compostiable materials. One of the more experienced members here on GW regularly reminds us that compost will happen,with or without being fussed over. All the materials you mentioned are good for composting and are close to the 30 parts carbon C (brown) and 1 part nitrogen N (green) considered ideal while green. If you put them in a bin and did nothing for one year,chances are when you dig into the pile a year later you will find exelent compost. If you sprikle water on the pile during dry weather and stir,flip,turn or otherwise incorperate air into the pile occasionaly,you will have ready to use material much sooner. Toss in some aged cow or horse manure and it will happen even a little quicker still. All those same materials you mentioned will have far less N once they die and turn brown but still have enough to eventualy compost. One of the few mistakes is making a pile consisting of mostly high moisture,N rich green because it can get nasty and stink. Normaly one would add kitchen scraps,bone meal or other N rich material to the fall leaves to get better balance. I have an abundance of ground that alows me to plant clover in early fall. The clover is green from late fall to early summer and not only enriches the soil while growing but is also a ready source of N when hearvested and added to fall leaves.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 9:47PM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

I chuck all those things in - the bottom line on composting is 'if it ever lived, it will compost'. You can tweak and measure if it interests you but even if you don't you'll get compost eventually. You can make it a project or you can treat it like breathing - you do it but you don't think about it. And you hope to keep doing it as long as possible ;-)

    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 5:30AM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

Composting can be a very complex operation or the easiest thing you have ever done and some will try to make it the most complex thing anyone has ever attempted. Keep in mind that Ma Nature does this all the time without help from us.
The terms "green" and "brown" refer to the Nitrogen or Carbon content of the material not necessarily the color, for example animal manures are brown but have a Carbon to Nitrogen ratio of about 15 to 1 and is considered to be a Nitrogen source.
So material piled up with a Carbon to Nitrogen ratio of about 30 to 1, with just enough moisture, and in the right volume will get digested by aerobic bacteria in a fairly short time. Material piled up with no attention to the C:N ratio and not meeting all the other criteria will, eventually, become compost anyway.
Perhaps the linked Compost Tutorial might be of some help.

Here is a link that might be useful: Composting Tutorial

    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 7:09AM
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lazy_gardens

"If grass clippings can be used for green material what about fresh grass just picked by hand? Or tree leaves freshly picked? Weeds and plants? Shrub leaves. Etc.

It can all be composted. If you have weeded an area, toss the weeds onto the pile. Prunings can be tossed in if they are thin twigs.

Do all of these count as green material or is there some catch?

They are all "green" because of the high nitrogen content. (chicken poop, which is white-grey color is a "green" in composting because of the high nitrogen content. So is brown cow manure and brown coffee grounds.)

The only catch is that you need to have enough low-nitrogen dry stuff in there to keep the fresh plant material from clumping and going stinky and icky. The dry stuff can be dry leaves, shredded paper, straw, or whatever you have.

Any green material that should be avoided such as poison leaves or certain types?

I would not compost poison ivy leaves because the skin irritant is long-lasting, but I regularly compost oleander leaves and shredded oleander branches. The fungi and bacteria aren't affected by the heart-stopping oleander toxin ... they have no hearts and to them it's just food.

I also do not compost cactus trimmings. The pads compost easily, but the thorns last a long time.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 8:39AM
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klem1

"I also do not compost cactus trimmings. The pads compost easily, but the thorns last a long time."

Would it be stiring the pot to ask how you found that out?
Have any thing to do with school of hard knocks?

    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 11:13AM
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toxcrusadr

More like the school of sharp pokes, I'll wager. :-D

I use only hand-picked grass and leaves in my compost, harvested at dawn during the new moon by underemployed liberal arts graduates. I've been told I'm too fussy and should just 'throw it all in and let it rot', but I'm just not sure.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 1:11PM
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lazy_gardens

Klem - It was the school of sharp pokes!

I know a few people who bury the pads in trench composting.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 6:44AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

I love these SOIL & COMPOSTING threads, keeping us entertained in these LOOONG COOOLD nights of the year(In the N. Hemi.). There is nothing much for most of us to do out there, in the garden that has been put to bed for a while now.
So lets talk soil, compost, container soil, starting from seeds, underlight.LOL

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 8:14AM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

OK, seysonn - I'll tell you about our soggy, fluctuating winters where we never really stop for long. Walking home today I saw the first few forsythia blooms out, daffodils up, heather flowers opening and various other winter flowering plants. After Christmas it will probably get cold and they'll all sit stalling until February or March. Or then again they may not. Gardening goes on all year round off and on. I really ought to be taking this pile of kitchen scraps out to the heap but it's raining. I also need to get on the allotment to do the winter digging. But it will have to wait a bit.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 2:02PM
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c6-zr1

Klemm

Your first post is bang on. Composting shouldn't be tedious because it discourages some, others love the challenge of trying to get a batch ready in a month which is fine. As for me, if it grew out of the earth and has a reasonable chance of decomposing in 5 months I will pile it on, I just cant stand taking O.M. to the landfill . I do this during the spring and summer and when October comes around I take it all and spread it on the garden and till it in along with tons of leaves.

Merry Christmas

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 5:07PM
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