Monthly Archives: January 2012

Wood Shavings for the Compost Tumbler

One day I was walking in my neighborhood when–lo and beholdWood Shavings for the Compost Tumbler I saw all these wood shavings around a tree stump.  The tree had just been cut down and there were lots of wood shavings.  I thought to myself, “Wow–What a find–wood shavings for the compost tumbler!”  My compost tumbler was a little overwhelmed with kitchen scraps–wet and a little slimy.  It needed some carbon or what composters call “browns” to balance it out. Composting is an art of balancing greens which are nitrogen and browns which are carbons to be successful. For a better understanding of this read my post on Greens and Browns in Composting. So I hurried home to get a few bags to collect the shavings in. The things we composters will do to get ingredients for our compost bins!!

Wood Shavings for the Compost Tumbler–Collecting in the Neighborhood!

I must have looked pretty strange collecting these wood scraps but I didn’t care.  I used them in my compost tumbler and they helped a lot to dry out the kitchen scraps and to balance the nitrogen.  I got very nice compost from that batch.

Then I started thinking that maybe I would use pet bedding which consists of wood shavings.  It is not so expensive at Wal-Mart, though, ideally you want all your compost materials to be free.  But sometimes that doesn’t work out when you run out of leaves!  The real trick here is to make sure you collect a lot of leaves in the fall.  I collect bags from other people and keep them on the side of my house.  I usually collect enough to last the whole year.  They are a great source of free carbon for composters.

In the springtime I am going to use wood shavings again!  I will post on how it works out. There is a very good book on composting called The Complete Compost Gardening Guide. This book covers all different kinds of composting–something for everyone.

Leaves for Compost? Great Carbon Source

Leaves for Compost? Great Carbon SourceLeaves for compost provide a great carbon source.  When I first started composting I thought I could put all my kitchen scraps in the bin and they would turn into compost. If composted alone they turn into a slimy, stinky mess.

Kitchen scraps are considered greens or the nitrogen source for the compost pile.    They also have to be mixed with a carbon or “brown” source.  Leaves for compost are a great carbon source. Add a carbon source to the slimy, stinky mess and watch (in amazement) how the carbon mixes with it and the mess loses some of its odor and wetness!

Rake Leaves for Compost in the Fall

You might still have a chance to collect or rake leaves for your compost pile.  In the fall I see black plastic bags lined up in driveways to be picked up by the trash truck.  It is so sad to think of all the lost opportunities for composting.  Fortunately in some communities the cities are now composting leaves and creating products like Leafgro that are sold to gardeners.

If you still have leaves in your yard rake and save them for your compost pile.  If they are left on the grass they will ruin it so you will kill two birds with one stone.  The drawback is that leaves for composting work best when they are shredded.  You can accomplish this with a landmower or a leaf vacuum/shredder.  If you are starting composting in a time of year when there are no leaves, maybe you could use mulch fines or wood shavings.  Read more here on Wood Shavings for the Compost Tumbler.

Leaves don’t “have” to be shredded.  They just take longer to break down.  Just look at the great soil under the leaves in our forests.  Black, earthy smelling and very rich from the composted leaves!