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Soil and Composting: No Grass

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Forum: Soil and CompostingReplies: 16, Views: 184
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keepingactive
Thousand Oaks, CA
(Zone 10a)

March 21, 2012
9:38 AM

Post #9051418

I have no grass for my compost. What can I do to replace it?

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

March 21, 2012
11:15 AM

Post #9051496

I believe Alfalfa pellets will get it going hot...Google it, and do some further research, but, I think I'm right. You need nitrogen.

If not, someone will come along VERY soon, and correct my error!

Ok. I Googled, and here's what I found for you (and ME, too!)

http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/market-farming/2005-May/020910.html

This message was edited Mar 21, 2012 1:19 PM
keepingactive
Thousand Oaks, CA
(Zone 10a)

March 21, 2012
11:33 AM

Post #9051516

Gymgirl,
Thank you! I'f3 had my bin for two years and all I has is a bin full of stuff. Definitely needs something. I will try the alfalfa pellets as there is a place nearby where I am sure I can get them.
Sue

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

March 21, 2012
3:34 PM

Post #9051816

Otherwise known as "rabbit pellets"...and don't forget to water periodically to keep it moist, but not soggy!

Lemme know how it turns out!
bellieg
Virginia Beach, VA

March 21, 2012
4:50 PM

Post #9051912

Get the neighbors grass after mowing.
Belle
keepingactive
Thousand Oaks, CA
(Zone 10a)

March 21, 2012
5:13 PM

Post #9051947

Bellieg,
Well, Duh. I did think of that. However, my neighbors have small yards and they mow their own lawn. There are only five of us on this cul de sac, two of which have no grass, two small yards. I have plenty of grass as I have the largest yard, however, my gardeners put it in the bin and then take the bin down as they know Thursdays are my trash pick up days, and I live on a hill with a steep driveway so they are helping me. I'm going to have to write a note and ask them to put it a wheelbarrow or other container for me. In the mean-time, I'll get some alfafa/rabbit pellets.
Thanks,
Sue
bellieg
Virginia Beach, VA

March 22, 2012
4:10 AM

Post #9052379

Those alfalfa pellets are pricey!! Buy a trash barrel for the grass. I do hardly throw anything, is compost.

Belle

This message was edited Mar 22, 2012 3:11 PM

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

March 22, 2012
12:21 PM

Post #9052936

Your could also add blood meal to your compost bin.
realbirdlady
Austin, TX
(Zone 8b)

March 26, 2012
12:59 PM

Post #9057859

It doesn't solve your compost problem, but you might see if the gardeners can get your lawn in balance so that they can mow and leave the clippings - let them decompose in place, instead of moving them, decomposing, and moving the compost back.

But yeah, definitely not in the trash can for the landfill.

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

March 26, 2012
5:45 PM

Post #9058297

A local Starbucks or 7-11 might let you take coffee grounds. Lots of nitrogen in coffee grounds, even if they are black or brown!

I wonder which has more nitrogen per dollar: bagged manure or alfalfa pellets?

All I know is that I saw a small bag of "Doctor Earth's Alfalafa Pellets" at a fancy nursery, at such a high price that my brain reset and now I can't recall the price. But a cubic foot of semi-dry semi-composted manure (not smelly) is only $1.20 and seems to be around 30 pounds.

One cubic foot of dense manure might balance several cubic feet of fluffy browns.

sallyg

sallyg
Anne Arundel,, MD
(Zone 7b)

March 27, 2012
5:25 AM

Post #9058787

Small bags at fancy nurseries are likely not the best buy. (of course) Look for a feed store, Southern States, or wherever someone there would buy animal feed.

"I wonder which has more nitrogen per dollar: bagged manure or alfalfa pellets? " RC
Somebody should figure it out (and write an article)


Sawdust will start out VERY dry and very carbon-ic. I think many of us underestimate the level of carbon in the browns, and overestimate the nitrogen in many of the nitrogen additives. Solid mown green grass is , as we know, very moist and high N, and thats why a pile of them will rot and stink. A pile of coffee grounds the same size will just mold quietly. N yes, but less, or less active.
keepingactive
Thousand Oaks, CA
(Zone 10a)

March 29, 2012
12:14 AM

Post #9061380

Thank you all for your suggestions and advise. I managed ti actually spoke with my gardeners today and asked that they put my cut grass into the wheelbarrow I furnished. I think they emptied their bag and I got everybody's grass, which is okay, I guess as I didn't have any. I put abut a 5 gallon pot of fresh grass cuttings into my compost tumbler. The stuff that was in my composer was pretty wet, I think from the rain; and not quite all composted yet. I turned it several times and used a shovel to help turn it as it was pretty heavy, actually went thump, thump, thump when I was turning the bin. I saw worms...how did they get in there? I dumped out the previous batch I had when I mentioned that I had added my purchased worms to the tumbler...several people said that I was mean. That batch was removed and placed into the ground to continue composting, I swear I didn't add any worms to this batch. Please do not tar and feather me again. I've been doing this composting stuff for two years, and have yet to get a nice batch of compost. I add dry leaves, dead plants, fruit and vegetables a lot of coffee grounds and coffee filters, and stuff to help it compost. The only thing I was missing was the grass. Now I have grass, and will continue to add the grass I have when there is room in the tumbler. Should I try to remove from the tumbler and let it dry out a bit? Any more suggestions? Thanks, Sue

sallyg

sallyg
Anne Arundel,, MD
(Zone 7b)

March 29, 2012
5:39 AM

Post #9061521

Most of us here want to encourage, not discourage. I hope you haven't seen glimpses of the tar bucket. Any specific advice is meant to clarify.

It sounds plenty moist. Today it may well feel warm to the touch. THat's a good sign. The grass that is still in the wheelbarrow will dry on top but maybe get really slimy in the middle. You may fluff it up while waiting to use it. It may get a nice white fungus all over which is fine and lovely.

Worms amaze me. I find them in buckets of water with straight smooth sides. They appear to have crawled up smooth plastic for fifteen inches, navigated a large lip, and then landed in the bucket full grown.

I've been composting for twenty years and do not have a Method. yet.

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

March 29, 2012
9:06 AM

Post #9061810

I built a nice little 4x4 compost bin in the corner of my yard. Since we had feral cats that used our open yard as the neighborhood latrine, I NEVER added any of our cut grass to my bin. And, it never got hot...

My DH, on the other hand, had a HUGE pile of the cut grass and leaves just a few paces away from my bin. One day I noticed STEAM coming from his pile, and asked him about it. He said, "it always gets hot..."

Grass/nitrogen is key...

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

March 30, 2012
4:16 PM

Post #9063589

>> Sawdust will start out VERY dry and very carbon-ic. I think many of us underestimate the level of carbon in the browns,

I agree. "Nitrogen deficeit" is real. Worms and bacteria may eat the carbon, but plants see it as a competitor for the nitrogen they need.

Not that I have enough ecxperience to really know anything about it, but I always questioned the "20:1" ratio that everyone advises for "brown:green" or "C:N" in an ideal compost heap.

Lately I've had mostly greens (kitchen scraps, coffee grounds, leaves & stems) and hardly any browns. No stinky drool, it just breaks down faster. I'm sure I would get MORE finished compost if I had added lots of shredded paper or brown leaves, but my inexperienced guess would have been that 3:1 or 5:1 brown:green would be faster and richer than 20:1..

Maybe "20:1" is not the formula for "fastest compost" or "richest nutrients" in compost.

Maybe it is a formula for "how far can you stretch out your greens, and [b]maximize the amount of finished compost [/b] without stalling your heap altogether or creating a nitrogen-DEFICIENT finished product".

I'm just guessing.

But I do believe that compost is mostly a way to increase the organic matter (digestable carbon) in your soil: "food for worms and bugs". (And of course that improves tilth.)

But if your soil is seriously nitrogen-deficient or mineral-deficient, and you have to remedy that quickly, you might need MANY cubic yards of finished compost to equal the nitrogen-improvement of a one-time shot of 50 pounds of high-N chemical lawn fertilizer.

If you HAVE many yards of green-rich finished compost, sure that is better for the soil than one bag of chemicals.
But if you don't have and can't afford buying and delivering lots of compost, the nitrogen-per-dollar and nitrogen-per-wheelbarrow-load in 10-5-5 is much higher than in the richest compost.

Or spread 5 pounds of 46-0-0 urea very thinly every other week and water it in.

sallyg

sallyg
Anne Arundel,, MD
(Zone 7b)

March 31, 2012
6:02 AM

Post #9064070

What he said.

Seriously.

"MORE finished compost if I had added lots of shredded paper or brown leaves" That was my reasoning about 'capturing' the N of grass, with more browns--to get a bigger bulk of compost. Otherwise the extra N goes into the air, or the soil below the pile. N is very transient, C is not.

"the nitrogen-per-dollar and nitrogen-per-wheelbarrow-load in 10-5-5 is much higher than in the richest compost. " True.

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

April 2, 2012
2:51 PM

Post #9067257

>> Otherwise the extra N goes into the air, or the soil below the pile. N is very transient, C is not.

I agree with that, too. I located my compost heap where the "drippings" will enrich some dead clay.

If I ever find time, i plan to re-arrange my "clay pile" so that I have a larger, flat surface and can move my compost heap back and forth over the clay. I'm hoping that worms will follow and loosen whatever clay is under the pile at any given time.


(I excavate clay from under any rasied bed I create, and move it aside to a "clay pile" where i can screen and amend it as i create compost or buy crushed stone and bark. Once it's good enough, I use that to create more raised beds. But it seems that good soil can be no more than 25-30% clay! Maybe that will be less true as it acquires enoguh organic matter and living population to improve its structure and tilth. But while Im relying mostly on mechanical structure, anything over 30% clay makes it sticky and pudding-like: no aeratuion and poor drainage.)

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