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How Much Brown Material To Add To A Compost Heap?
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How Much Brown Material to Add to A Compost Heap?

Brown material is an important part of creating beautiful compost. While it's possible to just chuck anything that's organic into a compost bin and hope for the best (it does work!) a little more effort will yield you compost that's beautiful and great for your garden.

One of the things that's important to add to compost is brown material. Composting bacteria like a good mix of both green and brown material and therefore it's up to you to add them to your compost pit. Brown material helps to bulk the compost out. It also helps to reduce the amount of smell that the pile can sometimes produce.

So, how much brown material do you need to add?

Well, it's about 40% brown to 60% green. That's a rough rule of thumb.

Some people say that you should do 1 to 3, and that works as well (it's about the same). The thing with brown material is that if you add too much of it you might cool down the pile too much. If you add too little, the pile will heat up and will begin to smell more then necessary. If you cool the pile down beyond what it can do, the composting process will slow right down. That's not a good thing!

If you find that happens, add some grass clippings or coffee grounds to your compost heap in order to get it going again.

Brown material to add to your compost heap includes:

  • Paper and cardboard. I'm sure you've got paper somewhere that you don't need. Some people recommend that you don't add any paper that's got ink on it, as it can sometimes have heavy metals and other crap in it. It's up to you if you want to add it or not. Blank paper or black and white stuff is usually best.
  • Sawdust. Are you a builder? Keep your sawdust and add it to your compost pile.
  • Sticks. This is garden waste, but it is high in carbon and will take a bit longer to decompose.
  • Ashes. If you have a fire, free free to add your ashes. Just make sure that it's cooled down first.

If you're going to be adding any of the above to your compost pile, make sure it's not in huge chunks. Shred your paper before adding it. This gives more surface area and helps the bacteria along.

Brown material is an important material to add to the perfect compost heap. So don't forget about it! While composting does occur even with just green material, adding brown is a great way to improve the quality of your compost.


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