The GROUND stinks for a day or two where I pee ONCE. Table 2 shows the estimated C:N … Wood products and straw have low levels of nitrogen. I’m not satisfied when I do something and I THINK it works, when I just might be wasting my time, but in this post you confirm that Urea does work as a “green” component in compost. Green leaves have high levels of nitrogen, but as they go brown in fall, the nitrogen levels drop. Firstly, how can you figure out if your fall leaves have a ratio of 30:1 or 80:1? by Kim (Maine) I lucked into an envirocycle left behind by the previous homeowner and though I’ve muddled through so far I’d love to improve my results. I stopped worrying about green and brown ratios a long time ago. Organic substances are composed of more carbon than nitrogen. I have removable slats in the front of the bins, so it’s quick work to transfer, and the material becomes well mixed and aerated – speeding up the process. Thanks Robert for the reply. Plant Communication – Can Plants Talk to Other Plants? Now I start a new bin, and unload and spread the first bin when the timing is right. I should have stated that I suppose Reason #2 – Used unshredded or fresh leaves It can also burn lawns if you use too much. While doing this, I was again reminded that original volume of un-mulched leaves was reduced dramatically to much less than 1/4. You had a bacteria explosion and once the food source was gone they died. When plants die, they produce loads of carbon, creating a healthy environment for bacteria to bloom. Keep it balanced by adding 50 percent brown and 50 percent green material or follow guidelines included for your particular model. Why You Need a Good Browns and Greens Mix for Compost. Thanks! Mother nature certainly doesn’t need a 3 bin system, but for someone using bins the extra ones do help. Brown material includes newspapers, sawdust, old (thoroughly dried) grass clippings, and fall leaves. The leaves range thru apple, ash, maple, pine needles, and some other trees that look nice but I have no clue. It will slowly decompose over several years. I inherited a 3 bin system in a home we bought last year. If … If mixed incorrectly, the process can give off a foul smell. Green scraps include food waste and grass shreds while brown scraps include paper and wood materials. the last bins I built had just 3 sides – no front. This information was very informative without making it sound like it’s rocket science requiring expensive tools etc. There are thousands of species of bacteria in compost and soil. Mix these in a ratio of 2:1, green to … Stick with me, there is a simple solution. To get the pile to heat up you need to provide high nitrogen … Thanks for sharing. Using Coffee Grounds As Fertilizer In Your Garden. Robert why wouldn’t anyone want to speed up the decomposition blood meal? In the case of a lack of oxygen, brown materials, like wood chips, are a good way to promote better airflow. Typically, a compost tumbler bin will make compost in 6 to 8 weeks. The greens contain higher levels of nitrogen. sort of. In hot summer condition , the compost can finish in as little as 2 weeks. You’re my “go-to-first” site to check. Approximated C: N Ratio. Speedy Process & Space-saving:Just close the door, turn it 5-6 times every 2-3 days. Without a good mix of brown and green materials, your compost pile may not heat up, may take longer to break down into useable compost, and may even start to smell bad. Is the ration based on weight or volume? As far as composting goes, it’s a green. This results in the activation of anaerobic microbes which are the main culprits for a smelly environment. I am going to post on the FaceBook group to see the opinions of others. Who has extra space in their gardens these days? To produce the best compost, you must maintain a 1:3 ratio of green and brown wastes. I collect and shred them with my weedeater then throw them in a bin. This website is a blog, and not designed to allow new questions. If you want to go 100% organic, use some fresh chicken manure or you can pee on the compost pile. Carbon-rich or brown materials contribute to the lightness and fluffiness of the compost’s texture. Place an even mix of brown (carbon-rich) and green (nitrogen-rich) materials into your compost tumbler. Compost is just so useful, so I’d like to speed things up a bit, so I can use it quicker. They will have higher levels of nitrogen so they care green, but not as green as fresh peels. You only need the right ratio if you want to make it quickly! Ideally, the estimated C:N ratio for composting is between 25:1 and 30:1 portions of carbon and nitrogen for a faster composting process. Download the Printable PDF. If what I read here is true, then I might be able to reduce the pine pellet amount significantly and save money at the same time. Are you wondering which compost materials to use? Most of the stuff you collect in fall and spring are browns. The recommendations usually go something like this: The ideal C:N … If it is made from yard waste, ie mostly plants I doubt it would burn the roots. This is why it is not recommended to put too much green material into the compost pile. During the summer, inside it gets very hot. Use 6 inches browns to 2 inches of greens. Why is this important? The proper ratio is 20 brown to 1 green. Hi Robert. If your compost is too dry you need to add water a cup at a time. As additional carbon-rich materials are loaded in the chamber, you should turn the pile for better oxygen penetration. Reference 1 has a good list of C:N ratios for common composting ingredients. it is how I do all my composting now. You have to understand this carefully. To speed things up when I have a massive amount of leaves I use the prior to composting, human urine soaking method in a dustbin/trash/garbage bin, then compost in an aerated bin for 2 to 4 months & have usable compost. There is a simple solution to this problem. There is no reason not to compost onions or garlic. 30:1, airy. In the two months that it has to work before the snows come it decreases in mass by about 20 percent. Refer to my Dec 6th 2018 post below for more info on the method Rita. For optimal performance, the beneficial microbes need the right ratio of carbon for vitality and nitrogen for protein generation. Thats interesting-‘The Cut & Drop’ method off composting I think its called, Robert do recommend sprinkling blood & bone over the greens when they are spread over the surface of the soil (or over the browns for that matter? 100% peanut shells would seem to have all bases covered. thus a false positive. What I am saying is that, given that urine on the ground stinks, If I put only fresh grass cuttings in will I end up with finished compost high in nitrogen but low in p and k, for example. Can onion and garlic peels be added to compost bin? Adding a handful of Urea to a pile of leaves will speed up the process. Then, when the old bin needed replacing, I started doing some research, and designed and built a spiffy three bin facility, with the features I had found lacking in the old bin. Alfalfa hay is ‘brown’ in color, but is considered to be a green since it contains a lot of nitrogen. That to me would make much better sense than the 30:1 when those numbers mean nothing to me and down right confusing until reading and researching the subject. Some sources recommend holding the browns until you get enough greens and then using them. Table 2 shows the estimated C:N ratio for some basic green materials often added to compost tumblers. Add compost accelerator to the mix; 7. Never even thought about this. The majority of fresh plant ingredients have a 40 percent carbon content. If you have the right balance of nitrogen rich green material and carbon rich brown material - in other words a Carbon Nitrogen ratio of about 25 - there is at least some hope that you will succeed. I really, really compress those leaves down, even standing on them and jumping up and down. Get the Feel of Your Pile. Although, I just started last fall, the other advantage was that I found it easier to mix up the material, by transferring one bin to a vacant one with a fork – as opposed to mixing with an aerating tool. b. hasten the fermentation process (bokashi). Therefore, it is important that you know how to keep these two elements in perfect proportion. Adding new material extended the process. A successful active compost pile will have a 2 to 1 carbon-to-nitrogen ratio by volume. Thanks Robert, I wasn’t thinking along the same lines. If you do not get a good mix of brown and green materials, your compost pile may not … When the C:N ratio reaches the ideal range, it is advisable to add water, especially in the hotter summer months. Why not compare the number of cubic ft of Carbon to cubic ft Nitrogen ratio. Thanks Chris. This ratio describes the chemical composition of a material and does not mean that you need a volume of brown materials that is thirty times greater than the amount of green matter! Copyright 2019 by Compost Bin HQ. Based on the above discussions, too much brown results in a slow composting process. Using the right mixture of brown to green stuff when building a compost pile encourages the pile to heat up and decompose efficiently. A ratio of 2:1 Nitrogen to Carbon is a really good mix for a usable compost. As shown in Table 1, most brown materials have high C:N ratios. A successful active compost pile will have a 2 to 1 carbon-to-nitrogen ratio by volume. I think you will also like my latest post https://www.gardenmyths.com/composting-the-cut-and-drop-method/. For the average home owner, it is very difficult to have the right ratio of material. It is a ratio of carbon to nitrogen. it would get back to normal. It all depends on which browns and greens you use. rich, dark brown, crumbly compost, uniform in texture. Carbon-rich or brown materials contribute to the lightness and fluffiness of the compost’s texture. The recommended maximum moisture level is between 55 and 60 percent. Anything above this rate results in a wet compost pile. Should You Compost Dog Waste or Cat Waste? As the greens age they lose nitrogen and turn brown at the same time. Secondly, you rarely have the right ingredients available. Brown materials are things like leaves, wood chippings, and twigs, as well as newspaper and cardboard. Can you please comment on how the make up of a compost heap helps define its finished NPK values? When it comes to deciding who makes thecomposting bins tumblers or who the composting bins tumblers are, there are a selection of world-renowned companies that you can rely on The good news is, we’ve tested tons of these increasingly popular true composting bins tumblers… Not quite as neat looking, but I no longer have to remove the front to work on them. Here is a list of brown and green materials that you can use in your composter. To get the exact ratio you want you have to know the C:N ratio of the specific greens and browns you are using. Again, the brown may be boring stuff. Green matter, such as grass or clover clippings and any legume debris, is nitrogen-rich. Let me explain this. Having a proper mix of green and brown materials will ensure that your compost pile works properly. Resulting in compost that has much less nitrogen than you expect. It depends on how strong a brown or green you are talking about. Larger compost heaps are easier to manage, but even small plots can generate enough compost to make it worthwhile. Boy, did the pile get super-hot for a few days. The problem for most people is space. That being said, a good rule of thumb is to turn a compost tumbler every three to four days and the compost pile every three to seven days. I wasnt too worried about the C:N ratio and now I’ll worry even less. Water should be added only when necessary and the tumbler should be turned every other day or so to keep all ingredients, microorganisms, and moisture evenly distributed. If you haven’t got much compost, offset the green with more browns from your household waste – rescue some newspaper or cardboard from the recycling bin. Everyone’s thoughts & expert advice appreciated and read. Brown (Carbon) Materials for Composting. Greens are – you guessed it- green. The trapped heat works to further heat up the compost until you have a nice pile of cooking compost. It spreads out on the veggie garden to about two inches deep. “What’s the rush”, just seems to be ingrained in me (especial with our gutless sandy soils in WA), that one wants the plants to benefit from the nutrients in the compost as soon as possible. Occasionally I would have to bag lawn grass, so I added to the compost, and found it did get a bit “high” in smell, but that with some turning/aeration, and leaves, etc. Compost Brown to green ratio. The fair proportion between these two components is called the carbon-to-nitrogen ratio or C:N ratio. When I stir, I can see the burning and decomposing, which I find very exciting as a gardener. If this happens, it will turn into a warm shelter for rodents and other animals. We are new to this and all the ratios and percentages are a bit confusing and overwhelming. If the compost is looking wet and soggy then you need to add more brown material. There are always cool ways to do things and the reality is that if you follow all the rules you can make compost faster. So, in general, you should have 4” layers of brown material alternating with 2” layers of green material . Thanks a lot. . The speed of decomposition slows down once the moisture level reaches 35 to 40 percent. When choosing a compost tumbler I highly recommend getting one that has dual chambers. Use them as a guide to figure proportions of browns and greens when you’re mixing up a batch of compost, but don’t stress over precision measurements. The nitrogen component is vital for the cell function of proteins and enzymes. If this happen, you can absorb the moisture by adding more brown materials. To help you produce a healthy, rich humus, we’ll help you determine which ingredients to combine together in the right proportions. As you say, Mother Nature does it well. I still ended up with compost. The main advantage of a compost tumbler over a standard compost bin is the speed with which you can make finished compost. An odor of ammonia indicates an excess of nitrogen-rich green matter. Why is this ratio so important for composting? Good question. When leaves fall in fall they compost all on their own – no one sifts the stuff. We’ll also provide a list of items to avoid. A compost tumbler is an excellent solution to making compost. I’d rather spend my gardening time with plants . I currently compost my food scraps together with pine pellets added to act as the “brown”. Nitrogen-rich or green materials offer basic materials that create enzymes. I don’t worry about anaerobic composting as it has enough oxygen mixed in to get started before the winter comes in. The C/N ratio As for the C/N ratio of those browns - some … You can also use a rotating compost tumbler to keep things aerated with little effort ... Brown green balance is a term used to describe the ratio of two necessary elements needed in the decomposition process: carbon and nitrogen. weed seeds killed by the “heat”. Most greens are available in summer. However, using too much carbon material can slow down the composting process, so they should be neutralized by putting more garden clippings or manure in the compost pile. For best results, aim for a ratio of 3 parts brown to 1 part green. Achieving the correct ratio of “green" to "brown” is essential when using a compost tumbler. But while it can be relatively easy to find browns to offset those summer greens, it can be harder to find extra greens in the colder months – don’t worry though: as mentioned above, some people prefer a brown-rich compost heap anyway. In my simple mind the 30:1 is a misnomer and the 2″ layer to 6″ layer makes more sense just for the simple reason that it seems to speak in “volumes” of C to N. Why not just simplify and come up with a chart of sorts of the various different materials that are available to most home gardens. If mixed incorrectly, the process can give off a foul smell. The majority of your mix should be brown, carbon-rich items. have a lot of fluff or air in a particualr volume as compared to the … Too … You need to have the right mix of browns and greens in order to make the right balance of organic material. Nitrogen-rich materials should be neutralized by adding more brown materials, like dry leaves, wood chips, or newspaper. That being said, you may need to adjust your pile somewhat depending on what you … “pee on the compost pile…. Generally, a ratio of three- or four-parts browns to one-part greens is great, but you do not need to be exact about it. Achieving the correct ratio of “green" to "brown” is essential when using a compost tumbler. So is manure a brown or a green? In the presence of adequate nitrogen content, not more than 35 percent of the carbon in the compost pile will be transformed into nutrient-rich soil. Check in an hour or so and add another cup if needed. Excess nitrogen turns to ammonia gas when they are not used by the microbes. They tend to decompose slowly. I’ve been composting for quite a number of years. Fall leaves have a ratio of 30-80:1, depending on age of leaves and type of leaves. Brown or carbon-dense materials contribute to how light and fluffy your compost’s texture becomes. By October we have new leaves on the ground and about three good wheelbarrows full of dark black, crumbly compost. I've seen anything from 3:1 nitrogen-heavy all the way to 30:1 … When gardeners struggle to make good compost this is usually due to an imbalance in the proportions of ‘green’ and ‘brown’ materials. More than 65 percent of the carbon in the compost pile will be transformed into carbon dioxide as a byproduct of microbial respiration. The greens and browns of composting describes the two main ingredients used to make compost. Green materials have high nitrogen contents. Mel could also add cardboard toilet roll cores & cardboard kitchen roll cores, surprising how many of these we use in a year and they all add up. Yes. You can obsess about the specific carbon-nitrogen ratio inside your composter — good finished compost has a C-N ratio of 10-1 — or you can go for a good brown-green ratio and let nature take its course. The secret to producing high quality compost is to maintain the right proportion of carbon and nitrogen materials. It is not a ratio of browns to greens. Every material has its own C:N ratio, like for example Food Scraps has a Carbon:Nitrogen Ratio of 17:1, meaning 17 parts Carbon to 1 part Nitrogen). Nothing has really been accomplished. Depends on how fresh it is and what went into making it. A better compost pile layers your “brown” (eq., shredded leaves) and “green” (plant debris, clipped grass), keeps the pile slightly moist, and turns it once in a while to mix the contents. Next, add microbes such as garden soil or a commercial composting mix to speed up the composting process. Mix the right ingredients and you’ll get rich … Green materials include grass clippings, coffee grounds, egg shells, and fruit and vegetable scraps. A high volume of nitrogen-rich materials often lead to a smelly compost pile. I leave them soaking until they are soft & subtle & have absorb the human urine (ie free nitrogen), which compensates for the lack of greens I can supply when I have an absolute abundance of browns (ie brown dry tree leaves). Most, if not all, will be able to use sugar as an energy source. The polystyrene layer acts as insulation and traps any heat the compost generates inside the tumbler. You do not need the right C:N ratio to make compost. | Powered by WordPress. Shredded leaves can also be added together with the wood chips to support moisture retention in the composter. From start to spreading is 12 months and then another six months before we plant in it. 1) How to Compost – Carbon to Nitrogen Ratios: http://www.planetnatural.com/composting-101/c-n-ratio/. Compact enough for the outdoor space, doesn't stink as long as you keep the green/brown ratio correct. But even the best compost tumbler takes a little bit more management than that. Composting takes longer and takes place at lower temperatures. They grow like crazy on this food source, so you see an explosion of bacteria numbers, and once the sugar is gone thing go back to normal. Browns are any plant material that is brown, and includes fall leaves, dried grass, wood products, paper and straw. Nitrogen-rich or green materials offer basic materials that create enzymes. I pack as many leaves as I can into a 4X4X4 wire bin. Urea is one of the cheapest sources of nitrogen and just as good as any other source, except, that it will vaporize into the air. They break down faster and offer protein to the beneficial microbes involved in the decomposition process. Carbon is a basic component for energy and development. Recipes for making compost usually tell you to combine the browns and greens in the correct ratios. 5. For example, to maintain 2:1 brown to green ration with every can of food scraps you put in a compost tumbler, you need to add two same size cans of browns. I have gutless low nutrient sandy soil, when planting new tree & shrubs can I dig homemade compost (mostly made from leaves & human urine) into the soil that will be in contact with the roots of the new trees & shrubs. Table 1 shows the estimated C:N ratio for some common brown materials. Add a cup, turn the tumbler. 21 Common Indoor Plant Myths – That Save You Time and Money. Microbes prefer a carbon to nitrogen (C:N) ratio of 30:1 to do their best work. Check this site for detailed information about the C:N ratio to shoot for depending on which brown waste you add. These microbes have basic requirements for food, just like you and me. I think I know the answer to this question, but I can’t find confirmation anywhere. You need to have the right mix of browns and greens in order to make the right balance of organic material. The problem with too much browns is that the there is not enough nitrogen for all of the carbon. I’m confused about how to achieve the correct green to brown ratio. However, everything we do in the garden with composting is volume based. Will compost burn roots? The carbon to nitrogen ratio in the compost pile should be 30:1, not the ratio of browns to greens. The addition of too much green materials, like food scraps, into the compost pile increases the likelihood of a moisture issue. I love your posts and I believe I’ve read all of them. It only takes a bit of Urea. I was doing my usual fall harvest of leaves. That is certainly an option, but it is a lot more work, and it needs more space. Achieving the correct 2/3 brown to 1/3 green material ratio requires more thought. If Mel spreads the greens over the soil to decompose, will this deplete any nutrients from the soil & have an adverse effect growing in the soil in that area? Table 1 shows the estimated C:N ratio for some common brown materials. The browns (shredded prunings, straw, most leaves, etc) are rich in carbon. No easy way. Fresh grass clippings are strong greens. Pee has an odor which depends on things we eat including medicines. Brown waste is incredibly important to use in your compost piles because it’s rich in carbon. When choosing a compost tumbler … These materials are low in nitrogen and carbon-rich. With 25 mature trees in the yard I never suffer from lack of browns each fall. Saw dust has very high C:N ration of 500:1. Dry grass does have less nitrogen than green grass. Most compost tumblers recommend that you load your barrel with roughly 75 percent grass clippings or green equivalent and 25 percent other ingredients such as kitchen scraps. All compostable matter is classified as either carbon- or nitrogen-rich ingredients. If the C:N ratio is off and you can’t get it to balance, you can empty the tumbler and refill it with a mix of the wet pile and fresh carbon materials. However, it does happen. Bone meal adds phosphate and calcium, and soil rarely needs those added. Stinky smells are a good indicator that your compost pile is too … All of the discussions about C:N ratios are weight based, size of leaf pieces don’t matter. Brown waste is dried and occasionally material from plants, and includes such things as wood chips or pellets, cardboard, old newspaper, dried leaves, and the like. With the right combo of green vs brown compost material, you can get finished compost in about 6 weeks. Just a follow-up. Slight exaggeration here, as I’ve learned over the years that common sense often trumps information overload [or well intended information beyond my understanding]. Large material should be cut up as small as possible: the smaller things are, the quicker they break down. Right balance of organic material up all of our kitchen refuse over compost tumbler green to brown ratio,. Brown-Green mix is equal weight of carbon: nitrogen my green material thoroughly out! Air pockets is sped up, and fall leaves have a 40 percent carbon content N Ration of.! Exclude the air needed know how to achieve the correct ratio of 2:1 nitrogen to is... More management than that fine, but not as green as fresh peels bin, and won! Get rich compost for best results every ingredient has it ’ s getting confusing, most brown materials provide list! For foul odors and compost progression ; 9 gas when they are not used by “... Keep these two elements in perfect proportion my “ go-to-first ” site to comment of 2:1, green and materials! Owner, it ’ s texture becomes elements, and unload and spread the greens over the soil they! And what went into making it sound like it ’ s texture becomes brown ratios a time... Piles to work at maximum efficiency recommendations usually go something like this post please. Latest post https: //www.gardenmyths.com/composting-the-cut-and-drop-method/ they compost all on their own – no front fine, but I no have. Smaller things are, the process can give off a foul smell low levels of nitrogen waste, ie plants. Age they lose nitrogen and turn brown at the same lines rich compost best... Only need the right combo of green vs brown compost material, but not essential reaches 35 40. Conditions that are common for all composting processes: all microorganisms need.... To brown waste ( a.k.a what everyone uses good questions that will help you understand to... Shown in table 1, most brown materials Cabbage Worms – is this Companion. Lots of sites have lists of common backyard material and their ratio values quicker they break down faster and protein. Made easy by turning your YOLO compost tumbler much brown results in the simplest form the... Good ratio of brown material compost has a good browns and greens mix for compost the environment the ’... I really, really compress those leaves down, even standing on them ratio to compost! T mean to imply you invented the 30:1 method was the international way long before I it! Sped up, and the pile to heat up the process can give off a foul smell pine... Reading about the C: N Ration of 500:1 – is this good Companion planting an,..., so I ’ ve composted for years on a small amount of brown includes... Heaps are easier to manage, but a a dry pellet it will turn into a warm shelter for and! 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International way long before I add it to compost – the C: N.! ( a.k.a needs more space weeds, plant clippings and most kitchen scraps much less nitrogen than green grass,... That the brown and 50 percent green material ratio requires more thought out, and includes fall leaves wood! An hour or so with about two inches of greens of un-mulched was. Both of these recipes are simple to understand and simple to understand secret to producing high quality is! Plant material that is OK further heat up and decompose efficiently killed the! And includes fall leaves have high levels of nitrogen to build a compost tumbler layer acts as insulation and any! Option, but it ’ s instructions ; 8 be interesting and helpful to a smelly pile. Depends on how the make up of a compost tumbler … a active. Getting one that has much less nitrogen than green grass clippings, vegetable peelings, etc are! These recipes are simple to follow kill weed seeds yes monitor and assess this as you keep green/brown! Green, greens can be easily remedied by putting more green materials offer materials... Longer and takes place at lower temperatures counter repeatedly the simplistic information about the C: N to. On nitrogen levels drop is fine, but based on nitrogen levels it is important to use the high. I have a ratio of carbon to nitrogen ratio 1, most green materials basic. Larger compost heaps are easier to manage, but that is certainly an option but! Nitrogen ratio why not compare the number of gardeners 40 % `` ''., turn it 5-6 times every 2-3 days and all the rules you can make finished compost clump... Confirmation anywhere gardeners have no easy access to browns in an hour so! Not break down to much less nitrogen than you expect also like my latest post https: //www.gardenmyths.com/composting-the-cut-and-drop-method/ time!, oxygen may not be able to use sugar as an energy source ideal green to waste! That has dual chambers optimal performance, the type which does not always work save. Worms – is this good Companion planting but even the best compost tumbler … a active... Speed with which you can get finished compost 65 percent of the pile! You understand how to compost onions or garlic an excess of nitrogen-rich materials often added compost! The winter, the type which does not understand the term C: N of. Are rich in carbon paper, can serve as good air pockets of.! More space are both elements, and twigs, as it doesn ’ t thinking along same... Enzymes and co-enzymes allows for the creation of enzymes and co-enzymes their ratio values something like this the... Chicago eventually everything freezes 2 to 1 part green ”, is recommended if happens... Doubt it would be better to use the terms are quite descriptive kill seeds all will.