The average United States household produces over 200 pounds of kitchen waste yearly. Luckily, there is a way to use this waste through composting. Discover a range of composting tips and the difference between green vs brown compost to ensure you get the richest finished compost.
While composting takes some time and effort, it’s the perfect way to turn food waste that you’d typically toss into the trash into a rich fertilizer or black gold. Yet, kitchen scraps aren’t the only compostable materials.
Everything from paper towel tubes, dryer lint, and coffee filters to fallen leaves and other yard waste can go into the compost pile. However, some items are unsafe for composting; it’s wise to understand the different brown and green compost ingredients before starting the composting process.
- Composting with Browns and Greens
- What are Green and Brown Compost Materials?
- The Difference Between My Green and Brown Compost
- Ratio of Brown to Green in My Compost
- Using Common Green Materials for My Compost
- Choosing Brown Materials for My Composting
- Items to Keep out of My Compost Heap
- Different Forms of Composting
- What's the Best Type of Composter for Me?
- Tips for Speeding up My Composting Process
- Keeping My Compost Weed-Free
- How Long Does My Compost Take?
- Using Compost in My Lawn and Garden
Composting with Browns and Greens
Understanding the differences between composting materials is essential before tossing scraps into compost piles. Learn about green and brown compost ingredients and how much to add to the compost heap for the best results.
What are Green and Brown Compost Materials?
Composting is a process that turns organic matter into fertilizer, and it’s necessary to incorporate green and brown material for successful decomposition. But, what are greens and browns?
Greens and Browns
If you’re new to composting, you may think that green and brown compost materials are defined by their color. While this is partially true, there is more to it. Brown compost consists of organic materials that naturally turn brown as they dry, like woody plants and dead leaves. Green compost is a recently grown material predominantly wet, including food scraps.
The Difference Between My Green and Brown Compost
There are many types of green and brown waste, and they are equally essential for composting. Explore their differences and how they work together to turn waste into plant food.
There are a couple of main differences between greens vs browns when it comes to composting. Green matter provides nitrogen and protein to the compost. It is responsible for heating the material and allowing microorganisms to multiply while the brown material feeds them. Browns, like dry oak leaves, are carbohydrate and carbon-rich, adding bulk and airflow to the pile.
Ratio of Brown to Green in My Compost
A healthy compost pile consists of a balance of browns and greens. Adding too little or too much of either ingredient leads to problems. Identify the ideal compost ratio for brown to green to ensure proper heating and decomposition.
Brown and Green Ratio
The proper compost ratio brown to green is generally three parts brown and one part green. The compost pile doesn’t have to be this exact, however. Sometimes trial and error help you pick the proper ratio for your region.
If you notice the compost heap begins to get smelly, try adding more browns, and if the pile is not heating up, it’s time to add more greens.
Using Common Green Materials for My Compost
Green waste helps the pile heat and break down, and many greens are available inside and outside your home. Learn which green materials are perfect for adding to the compost tumbler or pile.
Most types of fresh plant waste are acceptable green material. Start by composting weeds, perennial and annual plant trimmings, and annual weeds that haven’t set seed.
Vegetable and fruit scraps, coffee grounds, tea bags, and eggshells are plentiful at home, making compost from kitchen scraps easy. Cow, horse, chicken, sheep, and rabbit manure are excellent green materials.
Choosing Brown Materials for My Composting
Brown composting materials are essential for breaking down the contents in the compost heap. They include dry and woody plant materials like dried leaf litter. However, a few other browns may surprise you.
Brown compost materials include dry yard waste, such as twigs, chopped tree branches, bark, hay, straw, sawdust, and corn stalks. Also, you can compost pine needles, fallen leaves, and pinecones, among other types of waste.
In addition to yard waste, follow our list of compostable items, which includes newspaper, paper plates, paper tubes, napkins, coffee filters, dryer lint, corrugated cardboard, and cotton fabric are all suitable for brown composting.
Items to Keep out of My Compost Heap
While it may seem like you can throw any waste material into the compost bin, there are some items you should not add to the pile. Discover which materials to avoid when composting to prevent contaminating the product.
Keeping meat, bones, and dairy products out of the compost bin is best since these food scraps draw pests and stink up the yard. Likewise, do not place chemically-treated wood, plant debris, or paper into the compost to prevent contamination.
While it’s good to compost livestock manure, pet and human feces are unsafe because they may contain harmful bacteria or parasites.
Different Forms of Composting
There is more than a single way to produce compost; some methods are faster than others. Explore the three main types of composting and their benefits to help you choose the perfect type for your needs.
Aerobic, or hot composting, is when you introduce air to the compost by turning it every few days, which heats up the material and speeds up decay.
Anaerobic, or cold composting, is the most uncomplicated technique. All you do is keep adding materials without the fuss and muss of turning. This method takes longer. Vermicomposting uses oxygen, moisture, and worms to break down organic matter, causing little odor and requiring less turning.
What’s the Best Type of Composter for Me?
The most common way to compost is to make a pile of greens and browns in the corner of the yard. However, this is not ideal for everyone since it’s messy and takes up space. Fortunately, there are different compost types; some are easier to use than others.
A compost bin is a container with four sides that hold the compost material, and it’s great if you have outdoor space. A tumbler is an option if you prefer something smaller and more manageable. Compost tumblers are portable, sealed containers that you rotate for easy compost turning.
If you don’t have a yard, consider using an indoor composter. These units are compact and ideal for floor or countertop use.
Tips for Speeding up My Composting Process
There is more to composting than adding green and brown compost materials, especially if you don’t want to wait years for the final product. Find out how to speed compost decomposition by watering and turning the heap.
The size of your compost pile plays a significant role in composting. If it’s too small, it won’t heat up sufficiently. Make the pile at least four feet wide and four feet high, and position it in full sun.
Add dry leaves, twigs, food scraps, and grass clipping material with the proper carbon to nitrogen ratio. Ensure that the pieces are small for quicker decay. Monitor the temperature daily and turn the pile when it cools below 130°F. Moisture is also vital – the material should feel like a wrung-out sponge when you squeeze it.
Keeping My Compost Weed-Free
Weeds are a common problem when gardening. There’s nothing worse than accidentally introducing more of these plants after spreading compost. Here are some tips to keep your compost heap weed-free.
The simplest way to prevent weed seeds from surviving in the compost heap is with heat. Temperatures above 145°F kill all seeds and roots, and hot composting usually takes care of a weed problem.
If you prefer cold composting, don’t add weeds that have gone to seed to the pile and avoid composting morning glory, Bermuda grass, buttercups, crabgrass, quackgrass, and plants that are spread by runners.
How Long Does My Compost Take?
Just about everything in nature requires patience, including composting. Some compost techniques are faster than others. Learn which methods take time and which ones are the fastest.
Cold composting is the slowest, taking from six months to a year or more. Vermicomposting may take three to six months, depending on how much you feed your worms. A batch of hot compost is ready in as little as three weeks.
Using Compost in My Lawn and Garden
A compost bin full of earthy fertilizer is satisfying, and there are several ways to utilize this material. Use finished compost in your yard to promote lawn and plant growth.
Use compost to boost your new lawn by sprinkling it over the soil, or feed your plants by mixing it into the bed. Add compost to fruit trees, mix it into potting soil, or spread it as mulch around flowers.
Composting is nature’s way of recycling waste back into the earth, whether you use the compost to feed your vegetable garden or grow a lush lawn. While the process is relatively easy, creating a balance of green and browns in the bin is crucial for optimal results.
Understanding the difference between green vs brown compost ensures that you get rich fertilizer, so why not share our green and brown composting guide with friends on Pinterest and Facebook who are interested in composting?