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Finding More Materials for your Compost Pile

Sometimes when we want to build a compost pile, we either have a disproportionate amount of greens or browns or, don’t have enough material. What to do?

Here are a few ideas to help augment your composting materials:

  1. Post a request for materials online via a community bulletin board such as Nextdoor or a community marketplace such as Craigslist or Freecycle.  You can obtain egg cartons, shredded paper and cardboard in this manner.
  2. Ask a neighbor for their grass clippings or their food scraps.  Provide the neighbor with a trash can, tarp, or old sheet to collect the clippings. Provide them with a 5 gallon bucket with a gamma lid (a type of screw-top lid that snaps on to a 5 gallon bucket) for food scraps. Swap out the bucket weekly with a clean, empty bucket.
  3. Find a friend that brews beer that is willing to give you some of their spent barley.  A little barley goes a long way in generating heat in your compost pile. Be sure to mix the grain in well to avoid attracting critters. If you don’t know any brewers, try contacting a brewing club.
  4. Obtain mulch/wood chips from a tree trimmer.  There are multiple ways to do this. One way is to phone a local tree trimmer. Another way is to sign up with Chipdrop matches arborists/trimmers with people who want wood chips which allows the arborists to get rid of their woodchips without having to pay dumping fees.  The advantage of Chipdrop over the direct contact method is that you can specify types of wood that you will not accept. Please be aware that these loads can be VERY large, up to 15 cubic yards, and may overwhelm you.  Finally, if you see a tree trimmer working in your neighborhood, you can stop and ask them if they are willing to drop off at your home and ask how big they estimate the load will be. The advantage of this method is that you know exactly where the wood is coming from and how big the load will be. We recommend that you line the drop site with a tarp to prevent staining your driveway from any oils that may come from the wood chips.
  5. Work with businesses to get organic materials that they need to pay to have hauled away. Solana Center often gets juicing pulp from a local juice bar, and coffee grounds from local coffee shops. The former works well in worm bins, and coffee grounds are an excellent way to bump up the nitrogen in your compost pile.