As of this month I've been composting kitchen scraps and brown paper
products for roughly 4 years. At an average of 500 lbs per year I've
saved over one ton of trash from being wasted in the landfill :) I
hope everyone else is having as much success.
On Fri, 14 Nov 2003 00:29:47 GMT, email@example.com (dstvns) wrote:
That IS a milestone!!! So how has your shredding brown paper products
been incorporated into the kitchen scraps worked out for brown
material for the layering? Has it broken down adequately? And when
do you have finished compost for your garden to use?
I've often thought of getting a little cheap shredder at Wally world
to shred the paper that is generated here at the house to use as my
compost heap's dry product. And even more so this year since I
haven't gone scrounging for bags of leaves. I finally tackled the
pile of paperwork on my computer desk and was shocked at the amount of
paper that had accumulated and kept kicking myself at the idea of how
much shredded dry stuff this would have provided my pile. (I am not
growing vegetables so the flowers wouldn't be affected by inks or
This year in my original compost pile I have done an experiment with
the grassy stuff that overgrew in the back of my house. It pulled up
so easily that I just jumped in and ripped it up since raking it was a
bit too much and I wound up having two piles over three foot deep.
Once I got it into a wad, I threw the whole thing into the older
compost pile and watered it down some. Now the kitchen scraps wind up
on top (I do a very lazy pile. I alternate the green with whatever I
have handy and I have never turned it. I let it take it's time
breaking down) and I'll hopefully have almost finished compost by late
spring to steal and distribute. So you've been doing this for four
years? Or have you been composting for longer? I've insisted on
saving compostable things now for so long I've "ruined" Squire. When
he was out on the road he called one night to tell me I'd completely
messed him up. He was up that morning making coffee in the hotel room
coffee pot and was looking for the compost can to put the grounds and
madgardener up on the ridge, back in a rather cold and windy fairy
holler, overlooking English Mountain in Eastern Tennessee, zone 7,
Sunset zone 36 where the wind chills tonight are promising to be at
I used to shred the paper, but realized it was a waste of electricity
most times (phone books being the exception heh). I would tear apart
grocery bags along the creases. Then I would tear them into strips
lengthwise and dig them under in single layers in the fall or spring.
I would then poke the garden fork into the dirt, so water seeped
through and around the paper. It is labor-intensive but within a few
weeks they would be gone. By the way, I think I forgot to mention
that it's only veggie and fruit scraps...no meat or bones or other
animal scraps except maybe occasional bad milk or eggshells.
I used to have an "official" compost pile, but realized putting it
directly into the garden wasn't too bad, especially in the
off-seasons, or in spots that were in-transition (ie going from spring
to summer crops, the garlic being pulled out in late July, etc.). The
"official" pile would also get overrun by weeds, and I said to myself
"Im not doing this for THEM". So I simply dig the compost under in
late fall or early spring and cover with a layer of dirt or shredded
leaves. The worms can be merciless heheh. All that's left in a
couple weeks (in summer) is a piece of packing tape or plastic that
somehow got slipped into the compost bag.
I compost a little white paper, but not much. Usually I just tear the
plastic address cover off and compost the rest of the envelope.
The weeds here are an extremely difficult, non-native lady's thumb.
Tiny pink flowers on a long weedy stem. I can pull a thousand plants
out in late summer and they'll be a foot tall _again_ within 2
weeks...and it profusely re-seeds itself. The only solution is a 2-3
layer of newspaper or other mulch around established plants. My
entire carrot crop was wiped out by weeds this year and it's not going
to happen again next year. They were foot-tall, vibrant carrots and
within a month in August they were stifled and killed by these damn
Pulling weeds out is futile, because you're also taking away valuable
water and nutrients for the desired plants, not to mention the root
distrubtion caused by the pulling. ALWAYS use mulch; if you're
pulling weeds then you're already losing the battle and getting
I just turned my compost heap from mid-September which had nothing but
green to start with. So, I used the leaf bags themselves and torn newspaper
for brown and they are completely broken down. I was expecting paper bits
and I didn't shred; just soaked them in water and wadded them up.
I just "collected" a couple dozen bags of leaves, so I didn't need any
brown and used soaked rabbit food for green. Then, I happened upon a
friendly neighbour who was mowing a grassy lot and got a dozen bags of
mulch-mowed grass clippings. It was perfect timing. The heap is 10 ft. round
and 5 ft. deep and already steaming. Now I wish I would have thrown the leaf
bags in, as well. But, I'll never hesitate to do so in the future.
I don't necessarily have a milestone. For years, I've gathered 150-200
sacks of leaves every fall and use a chipper shredder to grind them down
and let them sit till late spring, early summer. Good leaf mold. A year
ago I started a landscaping company and I ran out of storage space as I
carry inventory of trees, shrubs and perennials. Last December, the guy
who introduced me to composting 11 years ago and who was a major player
in what I'm doing today, bought the house next door. He had it moved off
the lot in March and the empty is a vicorty garden/native plant/pond
site "green" area. I collect leaves and clippings throughout the year
and give him a good amount. Last Sunday we went out and collected 120
bags and shredded them down to a 10' wide and 4' tall mound. Would have
gone today but I had a presentation and we had our first rain in 2
months. We'll go another 2 times and that will do for fall. I'm
fortunate that he has some vacant land. Now, if I could just find a
Celestial Habitats by J. Kolenovsky
2003 Honorable Mention Award, Keep Houston Beautiful
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