What to toss in

Austin American-Statesman - - GARDENING -

Think brown and green — you’ll want a mix of the two.

Browns in­clude wood chips and dried leaves from trees. These items are sources of car­bon. So are news­pa­pers. “One or two copies of The New York Times shred­ded up will give you all the browns you need,” Tukey said.

Greens can in­clude grass clip­pings and other yard waste and food scraps, in­clud­ing such things as veg­etable or fruit peels and cof­fee grounds. These pro­vide ni­tro­gen.

Use twice as much green ma­te­rial as brown ma­te­rial if you can turn the pile of­ten, Tukey said. “If you don’t turn your pile, go more 50-50 or even 2-1 in the other di­rec­tion to start,” he said. “Too much green in a pile that is not turned bears the risk of rot­ting and stink­ing rather than com­post­ing.”

Com­post is cre­ated when mi­croor­gan­isms break down the or­ganic mat­ter into nu­tri­ents.

By adding soil or some com­post, you can jump-start the process.

En­vi­ron­men­tal­ists rec­om­mend that you don’t throw meat or fish scraps or dairy prod­ucts into your com­post bin. Those could at­tract ro­dents. Ma­te­rial treated with pes­ti­cides also should not be com­posted, es­pe­cially if you want to use the fin­ished prod­uct in your veg­etable gar­den, nor should you use weeds that have gone to seed.

You’ll also want to keep the com­post pile moist, but not wet, and make sure it’s aer­ated.

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