I am very new to composting and have two piles going so far. Currently the first pile is dead white pine needles of eastern texas, a few oak leaves and pine cones make up the brown material along with additional sticks broken into segments as well, and some sweet gum leaves. Should the pine needles and leave be chopped up to in 1 to 2 inch segments instead of whole?
The green material is mostly kitchen produce ie fruit, veggies, coffee grounds, loose leaf leaves and so on. No meat, dairy, or oil is added to the compost pile. I have also added vines growing on trees still green, some weed trees growing with their leaves, they have all been chopped pretty thoroughly.
The other pile is raked up pine neeedles and other leaves. I was planning to add green yard material in the summer and spring when they become available. I don't water that pile. Will it still break down long term?
My understanding is that the pile needs to be 1 part nitrogen to 2 parts carbon. Is that right? How do you quantify this? Is it as simple as having a 45 gallon garbage can with 22.5 gallons green waste and then mixing a full 45 gallon container with carbon material? then mixing the two or layering it throughout?
My pile currently has no manure to add to it. I plan to get chickens in the near future and am planning a coop, but am waiting for spring at this time. How long could it take a composting pile with no manure to compost? The pile is contained by 4 wooden pallets picked up from a local hardware store. It's about half full and I add to kitchen waste weekly upon turning it into a joining wood pallet bin I have loosely tied with string. Am I turning the pile to much or should I continue? I have felt some heat happening, but it wasn't more than 85 degrees, I am guessing without a thermometer.
I am taking anti depressants and am wondering if I should avoid adding my own urine to the pile as a result? I haven't because of this concern.
I really don't mind the work as it takes all of 10 to 15 minutes to do and I look forward to the resulting compost, so in my mind more labor is even desirable so long as the results happen.
My last question is are there any plants I can buy and propagate specifically to add to the compost pile? Ie some kind of tall growing grass?
Any help is greatly appreciated please let me know. Thank you!