The Right Mix:
Composting is basically a matter of getting the ‘mix’ right:
- ‘green’ materials
- ‘brown’ materials
- microbes, funghi, bugs, worms etc.
Browns: Drier materials in which carbon content dominates. They include:
- Fallen & dried leaves
- Hay & Straw
- Shredded paper & Cardboard
- Crushed/mulched woody prunings & twigs
- Crushed eggshells
- Mashed corn Cobs
Greens: Materials in which nitrogen content dominates. They include:
- Vegetable & fruit scraps
- Grass Clippings
- Coffee Grounds
- Fresh leaves, hedge trimmings
Note: The distinction that is frequently made between ‘greens’ & ‘browns’ is not necessarily about specific ‘green’ or ‘brown’ materials. As prospective fresh (‘green’) compost materials dry out & start to decompose they can become ‘brown’ (or ‘browner’) as their nitrogen content is lost to the atmosphere & their carbon content becomes more dominant. Composting is just ‘active management’ of this balance and of the natural process of decomposition. It’s all about understanding the composting process, maintaining a suitable balance in your compost mix & keeping our microbial & other tiny friends happy!
So if your compost mix seems to have ‘stalled’ & appears to be going nowhere with nothing breaking down – as a rule of thumb – think about whether it needs:
- more ‘fuel’ (more nitrogen or ‘greens’) or…
- if it needs more air or water (both are needed to maintain bacterial & fungal life).