Master Gardener Harriet Gord-Noghani’s summary of compost is that it should have a 30 brown carbon to 1 green nitrogen ration. Brown carbon includes twigs, leaves, sawdust, wood chips, newspaper and shredded paper. Remember that the twigs, leaves etc should be shredded. The green nitrogen part could be kitchen scraps, grass clippings, and manure. It is critical to keep the 30:1 ration, so don’t load the bin with green grass clippings or only throw in kitchen scraps, or only throw in shredded paper. It needs the 30:1 ratio.
Note: It is best to avoid adding weeds to the compost unless the compost temperature gets to 135-140 F. A high temperature will kill the weed seeds but anything lower than that keeps the seeds alive and potentially able to germinate when you use the compost on your garden.
After Harriet’s compost lecture, we each received a compost bin. My shredded newspaper, letters, extra paper from the printer, etc. will go into the compost bin today along with coffee grounds and a few kitchen scraps. I’m using larger pieces of cardboard and brown paper bags that don’t shred easily as mulch directly on the soil.
I wrote in an earlier post, More on Cardboard & Newspaper Mulch, that you should avoid using newspaper with colored ink because it might contain harmful metals. Harriet assured me yesterday in her lecture to the Master Gardener trainees, that this is not a fact since ink with lead and other metals are not legal to use.
(From what I can see on the Internet this morning, the EPA banned the use of ink with lead, etc in 1985. My excuse for not knowing about the ink is that I was living in Singapore at the time and mainly listening to BBC broadcasts on the radio for news. A surprising amount of stuff happened in those years I was overseas and didn’t have access to daily news. That really is no excuse. My comment about the colored ink came from another website. I hadn’t verified the accuracy of the statement. I teach my students to verify, verify, verify. I didn’t do what I teach. The Master Gardener program is about learning and applying current scientific research. For me, that is one of the highlights of the program. )