Ask a Question forum→Sawdust to grass clippings compost

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Bulgaria
MariaGeorgieva
May 20, 2020 1:08 PM CST
Hello, everyone. I'd like to ask you, as I have only sawdust and grass clippings, could I make compost out of these two ingredients only? As I tried to calculate the ratio, it would be 1 part sawdust to 20 parts grass clippings but this would make the pile too wet and it would start to smell. Could you please give me some advice? All advice is welcome.
Name: Big Bill
Livonia, Michigan (Zone 6a)
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BigBill
May 20, 2020 1:13 PM CST
You are overlooking another source of compost material, kitchen waste.
Tea leaves, coffee grounds, vegetable peels, left over vegetables, eggs shells, etc. Don't you have any of these types of things?
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Bulgaria
MariaGeorgieva
May 20, 2020 1:24 PM CST
BigBill said:You are overlooking another source of compost material, kitchen waste.
Tea leaves, coffee grounds, vegetable peels, left over vegetables, eggs shells, etc. Don't you have any of these types of things?

Thank you for the answer, Big Bill. My household Is small so we cannot produce enough kitchen waste to make a big pile. I thought about using some sun dried grass (I read it has a 50:1 C/N ratio and sun dried leaves (about 60:1 C/N ratio, I gues, although these are not autumn leaves but just ones from unwanted offshoots in my yard). Could I consider them (the sun dried grass, which should turn into hay in about a week, and the leaves) brown material and add them (according to the regular equation) it a ratio of 1 part brown to 2 parts fresh grass clippings? I don't have any other brown material during this time of the year,.
Name: Big Bill
Livonia, Michigan (Zone 6a)
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Region: United States of America Critters Allowed Growing under artificial light Echinacea Hostas Region: Michigan
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BigBill
May 20, 2020 1:45 PM CST
I do about 1/3 organic material, 1/3 grass clippings and 1/3 soil. My bin is outside and I keep turning it over to mix it every week or so!
Rodney Wilcox Jones, my idol!
Businessman, Orchid grower, hybridizer, lived to 107!
Bulgaria
MariaGeorgieva
May 20, 2020 1:55 PM CST
BigBill said:I do about 1/3 organic material, 1/3 grass clippings and 1/3 soil. My bin is outside and I keep turning it over to mix it every week or so!


This sounds really good if you have some manure. We don't have any animals and this is why I would like to ask you if you have any information as to whether sun dried grass/leaves are considered browns as their N level has dropped and now they have a greater C value. I searched for the answer in many articles on the Internet and never found a consistent answer.
Name: Big Bill
Livonia, Michigan (Zone 6a)
American Orchid Society Judge
Region: United States of America Critters Allowed Growing under artificial light Echinacea Hostas Region: Michigan
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BigBill
May 20, 2020 2:17 PM CST
What manure are you talking about?

The organic material I use is vegetable peelings, banana skins, apple cores,etc.
I don't think about greens and browns.
I use kitchen waste, grass clippings right after I mow and soil. That is it. The bin is in my yard, on the ground and I know that it is ready for use when the compost is full of earthworms.
Rodney Wilcox Jones, my idol!
Businessman, Orchid grower, hybridizer, lived to 107!
Bulgaria
MariaGeorgieva
May 20, 2020 9:08 PM CST
BigBill said:What manure are you talking about?

The organic material I use is vegetable peelings, banana skins, apple cores,etc.
I don't think about greens and browns.
I use kitchen waste, grass clippings right after I mow and soil. That is it. The bin is in my yard, on the ground and I know that it is ready for use when the compost is full of earthworms.

Thank you for the explanation. This is quite interesting as I don't see any brown material in your pile. Actually this is the first time I see someone adding soil inside the compost bin and not on top of it to prevent food flies from messing around. You inspired me to do some research and what I found was that soil brings lots of microorganisms that help the pile to degrade faster. Kind of interesting method of composting as you seem not to even care about the 30:1 C/N ratio and still get compost out of these ingredients. Thank you for the advice.

Name: Big Bill
Livonia, Michigan (Zone 6a)
American Orchid Society Judge
Region: United States of America Critters Allowed Growing under artificial light Echinacea Hostas Region: Michigan
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BigBill
May 21, 2020 4:11 AM CST
I am using my Grandmother's Old Family Recipe!!!
It worked for her family farming for years and years in East Granby, Ct. She was a farm girl. The system worked wonders on the family farm and for over 20 years when I was growing up next door on Long Island! She had some of the most beautiful Hollyhocks and Gladiolas that I have ever seen! Underneath them all you could always see egg shell fragments, grass clippings and coffee grounds.

Ratios, formulas, greens and Browns?!?!? Who cares??? Get down, dig in the dirt, take off the darn gloves and get your hands dirty!! Every time I plant and work in my gardens, I think of her. In all my years, I have NEVER SEEN A DARN BOOK DOING ANY WORK IN THE GARDEN!

"Stop reading and get digging!!!"
Rodney Wilcox Jones, my idol!
Businessman, Orchid grower, hybridizer, lived to 107!
[Last edited by BigBill - May 21, 2020 4:13 AM (+)]
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Bulgaria
MariaGeorgieva
May 21, 2020 9:08 AM CST
BigBill said:I am using my Grandmother's Old Family Recipe!!!
It worked for her family farming for years and years in East Granby, Ct. She was a farm girl. The system worked wonders on the family farm and for over 20 years when I was growing up next door on Long Island! She had some of the most beautiful Hollyhocks and Gladiolas that I have ever seen! Underneath them all you could always see egg shell fragments, grass clippings and coffee grounds.

Ratios, formulas, greens and Browns?!?!? Who cares??? Get down, dig in the dirt, take off the darn gloves and get your hands dirty!! Every time I plant and work in my gardens, I think of her. In all my years, I have NEVER SEEN A DARN BOOK DOING ANY WORK IN THE GARDEN!

"Stop reading and get digging!!!"

Thank you, Big Bill. You really have a unique composting method. And as you explained why you trust it and over what period of time it has worked, I am very excited to try it, A big thanks for the advice.
Name: Big Bill
Livonia, Michigan (Zone 6a)
American Orchid Society Judge
Region: United States of America Critters Allowed Growing under artificial light Echinacea Hostas Region: Michigan
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BigBill
May 21, 2020 10:33 AM CST
Okay. Good luck!👍
Rodney Wilcox Jones, my idol!
Businessman, Orchid grower, hybridizer, lived to 107!
Name: Sally
central Maryland
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sallyg
May 21, 2020 7:02 PM CST
Hi
Grass and sawdust are both so finely textured, I think it will tend to pack, causing anaerobic (not enough air) conditions and bad smell. More stirring might help.
Compost is not as foolproof as many articles would make it sound.
i'm pretty OK today, how are you? ;^)
Bulgaria
MariaGeorgieva
May 23, 2020 12:44 PM CST
sallyg said:Hi
Grass and sawdust are both so finely textured, I think it will tend to pack, causing anaerobic (not enough air) conditions and bad smell. More stirring might help.
Compost is not as foolproof as many articles would make it sound.

Yes, you are probably right. The problem is that there are just not enough brown sources during spring and early summer. At one article I saw a container for tree leaves which may serve as a continual source of browns but it's too early to have such leaves. I don't know which kind of composting you are doing but the example of Big Bill was interesting as (you can read what he wrote earlier) he has no brown source at all and his compost isn't getting that bad small either. Probably the soil helps keep things under control. Thanks for your opinion.
Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
Charter ATP Member Houseplants Keeper of Poultry Vegetable Grower Region: Maryland Composter
Native Plants and Wildflowers Organic Gardener Region: United States of America Cat Lover Birds Butterflies
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sallyg
May 23, 2020 2:01 PM CST
I have done some sort of composting for 30 years now at this house, and started in my teens at mom's house. I don't put too much work into balancing it or turning it. I do try to correct imbalances if it's easy enough, such as when all the brown autumn tree leaves come down, making sure to keep watering them, and add granular fertilizer to make up for the lack of green.

This season, I am getting a lot of kitchen waste from my two adult kids and 2 work friends, so it's been wet, lots of gnats, I am balancing that with layers of something brown and little dirt , and stirring the top, but you are right, there is not a lot of brown right now-(old pine needles collect in one area) Last week it heated up which was a little surprise.

Soon I expect black soldier flies to colonize the pile for summer. They eat kitchen waste very quickly and completely, so some do not like them doing that.

i'm pretty OK today, how are you? ;^)
Name: Lynda Horn
Arkansas (Zone 7b)
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gardenfish
May 23, 2020 2:09 PM CST
Shredded cardboard can always substitute for leaves. Also the inner cardboard roll of paper towels and toilet paper. You can even use plain paper towels if you didn't use them with chemicals or to clean up grease. Shredded newspaper is good, Don't use the slick shiny pieces. I use all these in the summer when leaves are in short supply. Cut into very fine pieces.
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