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gardener
Posts: 231
Location: Central IL
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I'm a bit low on typical browns here.  I'll have to wait 20-30 years for the sticks I've planted to become shedding trees!

But what I do have lots of is paper and cardboard.  It's amazing how much you can amass when you start diverting them from the waste stream.  So those are my browns when I can't find any others (which is most of the time).

-Jeremy
 
pollinator
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
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I have a pile with enough sticks and corrugated cardboard to keep it aerated, and enough paper products (napkins, paper towels, kleenex) to keep it uniformly moist.  It's on concrete, and has never released any liquid.

I put enough browns on top to keep out the smell.  The top three inches dry out in my California climate, so the very top is never the good stuff.

It doesn't run very hot, but chicken bones disapper in a couple months.  Not yet sure how quickly the newfangled polylactic acid spoons and forks will go away, but half-inch sticks need six months or so.
 
                                
Posts: 40
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Ah, cardboard!  I have a TON of cardboard.  We own our own business and have a lot of packaging supplies.  Anyone have concerns over the glues and inks used?
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
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Some of the glues contain boron.  Like copper, cobalt, selenium, etc. life needs a moderate amount of this micronutrient, and has trouble dealing with an excess.  I know of no easy and straightforward test for boron, so I use cardboard sparingly.

The only other toxicity issue I have heard of is that some blue inks contain copper.  A flame test for this element is incredibly easy: small samples will burn with a bright green flame.  I know there are agricultural uses for copper slufate, and so compost that includes these pigments might be of particular use somehow. 

Glossy paper or office paper might have enough chalk or clay mixed in to slow down the process, but this is less of a harm than an obstruction.

I know that compost is very slow at digesting polyethylene (though appropriate bacteria have been identified), so I was surprised to learn that paraffin wax composts very quickly, provided it can be kept moist.  Similarly, inks and glues decompose just fine.

Another idea for letterk:  contact the garden services, and see if they would want to deliver browns to you.  Where I am, they advertise free mulch extensively, hoping to avoid tipping fees.  What sort of palm trees are these, that don't shed?  I lived under a hail of discarded reproductive organs and fronds for years back in San Diego.
 
master steward
Posts: 26342
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
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I don't use newspaper or carboard due to concerns with the glues used to bond the particles together.

As for carbons:  time always seems to find ways to make sure I have an ample supply.  Right now I have lots and lots of old sawdust.

 
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polyparadigm wrote:
I lived under a hail of discarded reproductive organs



that caught me a bit off gaurd!
 
Leah Sattler
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around here some feed stores and 'side of the road' places sell 55 gal (or close) blue plastic barrels. i make feeders and things out of them. with a door cut on a section and a few holes drilled for aeration it would work great as an inexpensive tumbler. just roll it on the ground occasionally.
 
                                
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polyparadigm wrote:
Some of the glues contain boron.  Like copper, cobalt, selenium, etc. life needs a moderate amount of this micronutrient, and has trouble dealing with an excess.  I know of no easy and straightforward test for boron, so I use cardboard sparingly.

The only other toxicity issue I have heard of is that some blue inks contain copper.  A flame test for this element is incredibly easy: small samples will burn with a bright green flame.  I know there are agricultural uses for copper slufate, and so compost that includes these pigments might be of particular use somehow. 

Glossy paper or office paper might have enough chalk or clay mixed in to slow down the process, but this is less of a harm than an obstruction.

I know that compost is very slow at digesting polyethylene (though appropriate bacteria have been identified), so I was surprised to learn that paraffin wax composts very quickly, provided it can be kept moist.  Similarly, inks and glues decompose just fine.

Another idea for letterk:  contact the garden services, and see if they would want to deliver browns to you.  Where I am, they advertise free mulch extensively, hoping to avoid tipping fees.  What sort of palm trees are these, that don't shed?  I lived under a hail of discarded reproductive organs and fronds for years back in San Diego.



We have some small palms, don't know which kind, and there a number of queen palms around.  One neighbor has a Canary Island Palm.  All seem to do nothing until the palm trimmers come around once a year.  I guess I could ask for some of the browns then, but it's not a reliable source.

I'm hesitant to use the cardboard, so think I'll be making a quick trip into the valley.  It will also be my part in reducing the fire hazard! 
 
                              
Posts: 461
Location: Inland Central Florida, USA
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I'm surprised about the reluctance to use cardboard?  I shred lots of corrugated cardboard for use in my worm bins.  I would suspect that worms make pretty good "canaries" when it comes to toxicity since they are rather sensitive creatures.  They love corrugated cardboard and it seems to be one of the few materials that not only makes perfect worm bedding since it holds moisture yet remains fluffy and airy, the glues also provide food value to the worms. 

What purpose does boron serve in glue and is there really enough of it to pose a real threat?
 
paul wheaton
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Posts: 26342
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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I probably need to write a summary page about using cardboard and newspaper ...

And I was about to type it all again and I got the idea to find my old comments ...  presto!

http://www.permies.com/permaculture-forums/1047_0/permaculture/sheet-mulching-vs-mulching

 
Posts: 343
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I get enough carbons on my little <1/4 acre subdivision plot to make a compost pile that can easily top 1c.y. every year. I suppose if I actually went and tried, I could make a bigger pile, maybe 2-3 c.y. Nitrogens are even easier to come by. I let most of them mulch back into the lawn. After all that from the yard, there is my kitchen scraps.

I don't even bother with cardboard and paper. I let the recycler take them.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
pollinator
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
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My first guess is borax is a cheap surfactant, helping the glue to penetrate the fibers more quickly before the bond is formed.

My second guess is it's added as a fire retardant, but that would take an unreasonable amount as far as I know.

In any event, the boron concern comes to me from the following pdf, which also discusses ink, wax, and other constituents.

http://www.cwc.org/organics/org935fs.pdf
 
Joel Hollingsworth
pollinator
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
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I looked it up, and according to EP0391477 (European patent) the borax is used in the processing of starch into glue.  It, and lye, are used to control the way chains of starch fold while in solution, so that they flow properly in the machine that spreads the glue.

You learn something new every day, I guess. 
 
Posts: 22
Location: Tampa area, Florida - zone 9a
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cat dog trees
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I've tried different bins/piles/etc in the past for composting and had little success.  It's me...I'm not doing something correctly.  I'm okay with that because quite frankly, we don't have much of anything to compost.  Our house is in a subdivision.  We use a composting mower for the grass, any tree or shrub branches get a visit to our wood chipper to be put back in the gardens/food forest as mulch.  Any leaves that fall also just stay where the land, either in one of the gardens/food forest or to be chopped up by the mower.  

The only thing we have are kitchen scraps and they get direct composted.  Every day I bring my little bucket outside, pick a spot, dig in the mulch, plop the scraps in the hole and then cover them up.  My biggest concern (which is really not a concern at all) is that the possums like to dig up the scraps from time to time and if there are any seeds in it, I wind up with seedlings in strange places where the possums pooped.  Yonder seedlings just get transplanted.
 
Posts: 30
Location: California Sierra Foothils, 2,500 ft. Elevation zone 8b-9a
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solar woodworking
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This past summer I tested compost building 3 ways. In a 3 stack square plastic bin with good side ventilation, in a tumbler type bin that I drilled extra holes in for better ventilation and lastly a heap. I use a 24” compost thermometer bought on A popular website to monitor progress. I also used the exact same ingredients in each. I used kitchen scraps, llama beans, bedding straw and some oak leaves.
I mixed ingredients in a pile and then distributed them in each. I turned the ingredients once a week.

The results for me were very surprising. The tumbler never got hot with minimal breakdown. I scrapped it after a month. The plastic bin was slightly better got a little heat and still slow compost generation. The heap meanwhile heated up within 2 days, in 4 days it reached 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Hot enough to kill seeds from the straw, and miscellaneous seeds from kitchen waste like tomatoes, peppers etc.

I have no animals on my land (yet). But I do live in an area that has lots of goats, sheep, chickens and llamas. This fall I put in a request on nextdoor.com for my local area for manure and bagged leaves. The response was overwhelming. I helped and met new neighbors and picked up enough materials in 2 days for a huge pile about 9’x9’x5’high

It’s been about 1-1/2 months now and the pile has almost completely broken down. it’s only about 6’x6’x3’ now. I still turn it about once a week or when it reaches about 145degrees. I cover it with plastic sheeting when it rains or snows and I put one of those latticed type plastic milk crates on top so it doesn’t go anaerobic on me.

 
Posts: 40
Location: Hot, humid, sometimes hurricane drenched west central Florida
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I use a small compost bin someone gave me for free for my kitchen waste and that feeds my bsfl that feeds my chickens.
Right next to that is a giant "free form" pile for all the other stuff. When I need to get compost I don't take from the top, I dig down to the dirt underneath and man, that stuff is beautiful.
I live in Central Florida and normally having a compost pile on the ground would be a useless endeavor. But the compost bin and the giant pile are under the trees in the shade and the ground there is not sandy at all.
 
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