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Brandon McGinnity
Posts: 19
Location: Winston-Salem, United States
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Just musing on something this afternoon as I dragged tarp-fuls of leaves to the backyard for composting... are autumn leaves truly to be considered a carbon/brown part of compost, if they are freshly fallen and not dried out? I have some horse manure and a big bag of coffee grounds (gonna get more too) for nitrogen/green stuff, but just wondered how to figure the ratios. Not that I'm TOO scientific about it anyway, but I was curious to see what you all had to say on it.
 
Walt Chase
Posts: 75
Location: ALASKA
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I always treat them as a brown.  I start my piles in the fall when the leaves have fallen.  I use them, the bedding/waste from the chicken coop, stockpiled summer time grass clippings and some of the neighbors rabbit and horse poop.  In the spring when things thaw out again I usually add the chicken coop stuff again ( I only clean out my coop twice a year).  That gets it jump started again and I always have good compost.  My pile is generally about 12-16 feet in diameter and when finished about 5-6 feet tall.
 
Craig Dobbson
master steward
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Location: Maine (zone 5)
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Fallen leaves are browns in my book.  I should check the chemistry, but I feel like once the tree ceases photosynthesis and draws sugars down into the roots for winter storage, the leaf has lost it's "greenness". The dead leaf is probably nothing more than a carbon matrix of lignin and limited amount of nutrients and minerals such that only fungus, worms and soil microbes find them of any nutritive value.  Leaf mold is a common way of composting them in any mass. 

I use them as bedding in my chicken coop over winter and as mulch on my experimental food forest. I also use them in my indoor worm bin to add a little extra bulk when things get too moist. 
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