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Coffee Grounds C or N?

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Coffee Grounds C or N?

Post  morganfam7 on 3/22/2012, 12:55 am

Are coffee grounds Carbon (brown) or Nitrogen (green)? My guess is Nitrogen.
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Re: Coffee Grounds C or N?

Post  llama momma on 3/22/2012, 6:08 am

According to a composting book I have, "coffee grounds have a C/N ratio of 20/1, making them a worthy substitute for fresh grass clippings..."
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Re: Coffee Grounds C or N?

Post  camprn on 3/22/2012, 6:57 am

A few carbon to nitrogen ratios

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Re: Coffee Grounds C or N?

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 3/22/2012, 7:32 am

@camprn wrote:A few carbon to nitrogen ratios

Hey....thanks for that link
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Re: Coffee Grounds C or N?

Post  morganfam7 on 3/22/2012, 9:07 pm

campryn, thanks for the link!

I was taught 20+ years ago in a master composter class that anything that had just been growing (other than branches) was Nitrogen (greens)...so fresh grass clippings are N (green). Once it dried out it was more C (brown). That site lists grass clippings, like TTT says, just like coffeegrounds 20 C: 1 N.

High C:N ratios may be lowered by adding grass clippings or manures.

So, it appears that even though grass clippings are listed at 20:1 they are still a green..uh..right? Coffee grounds are then a green? I think I just need a list of greens. I think I've been talking about one thing and that site is talking about another thing. I think I should change my terms to greens and browns. If someone sees where I'm missing it, I would appreciate it.

What to add to the compost now to get it to heat up?

I started with big mulch:



added a case of rotten pears, our kitchen produce waste, some goat manure and bedding (half a kitchen trashbag), about 10# coffee grounds, 1/4 c molasses, a black trash bag of fresh mown grass, a box of moth infested cornstarch, egg shells..am I lacking carbon or nitrogen? Here it was on the 17th:



and tonight:



here's the leftovers pile tonight (for reference against the above picture - all mixed at the same time and filled the tumbler half full):


We continue to add kitchen scraps and tumbling. It's apparently breaking down, but I've never found it hot yet. It doesn't smell bad, but it doesn't smell finished either.

Should I just ignore the mulch and add more coffee grounds and hair from the barber shop? Or just the hair?

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Re: Coffee Grounds C or N?

Post  camprn on 3/22/2012, 9:15 pm

I hate to tell you this, but it looks like mulch. I suggest that you could screen all the large chunks out, set those aside and start over. My feeling is this would be less frustrating in the long run.

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Re: Coffee Grounds C or N?

Post  morganfam7 on 3/22/2012, 9:23 pm

Ok, well, I guess I will do that. Thanks!

I'll leave it in there and keep doing what we're doing now until I can gather the other ingredients. I can't get to any manure until things dry out. Should I add paper and cardboard to the hair and coffee grounds to build a hot pile?

I really wanted to incorporate the mulch in compost as much as possible because it's the easiest to get and it's free. I don't mind screening. I'm going to keep noodling around with ideas for the mulch while I make another pile. Thanks again!
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Re: Coffee Grounds C or N?

Post  camprn on 3/22/2012, 9:29 pm

Here, take a look at the home composting section of these Cornell Composting Fact Sheets. Very Happy

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Re: Coffee Grounds C or N?

Post  morganfam7 on 3/22/2012, 9:30 pm

I just found this and it helps clear up some things for me:

Normal compost has a C:N ratio ranging from 25:1 to 30:1. This is considered the origin or dividing line for all organic materials.

Any organic matter that a C:N ratio smaller than 30:1 is considered a GREEN.



Any organic matter that a C:N ratio larger than 30:1 is considered a BROWN.

How do I know the difference between greens and browns?

There is a lot of good information there (for me at least).

Thanks for all the help! I'm going to get a hot pile one way or another! lol
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Re: Coffee Grounds C or N?

Post  morganfam7 on 3/22/2012, 11:24 pm

Ooops, sorry for getting it wrong. LlamaMamma thanks for looking it up. It's good to know that coffee grounds and grass can be interchangeable.
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Re: Coffee Grounds C or N?

Post  llama momma on 3/23/2012, 6:20 am

That's ok, I should have first answered your question as 'green' before expanding on that other information!
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Re: Coffee Grounds C or N?

Post  GWN on 3/23/2012, 10:11 am

This is an interesting thread.
Thanks for that link morganfamily.
I never heard about adding something sweet, which I am going to try.
I have a tumbler that I completely over did it with greens over the winter.
Really just vegetable waste. But now have decided I had to get serious, and have put in lots of leaves that have dried out over the winter, dry grasses, shredded paper.
I am turning it every few days hoping it will start to warm up.
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Re: Coffee Grounds C or N?

Post  kittykat on 3/23/2012, 11:16 am

I got a tumbler last year, too - I think in maybe May or so... You know, I'm still adding to my first tumbler load... LOL... it's taking forever. It's working, but it's taking forever... I think I need to stop adding stuff - hehe...

I did get 4 worm tubes made and have ordered red wrigglers. If I can put the bulk of my kitchen scraps into the worm tubes, maybe that will give the tumbler a chance to finally finish a batch of compost for me. Other than that, I was considering adding another tumbler so I could alternate, but space is an issue.
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Re: Coffee Grounds C or N?

Post  AesSedai on 3/23/2012, 11:55 am

- Good thread and thanks for the links all.

- kittykat: Jealous of the worm tubes! Also, when I was given my first compost tumbler I remember being told eventually I should get more to be able to rotate piles. I'm short on space too but intend to get at least one more (I left enough room between my fence line and SFG's to move my tumbler along the fence line for mowing the grass.. so I should be able to squeeze one or two more back there as well).
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Re: Coffee Grounds C or N?

Post  morganfam7 on 3/23/2012, 6:32 pm

Thanks LlamaMamma, I was all up in my head about it and couldn't make good sense. lol Laughing

I'm brainstorming how to make this mulch turn into compost...anyone try bokashi composting?

I'm thinking about add that to my pile. It's supposed to be a super activator. Downside is it looks like I will have to do something to get the bran. I'm sure that I won't buy it due to cost. I'll probably start another thread with Bokashi in the headline - asking if anyone else uses it.

Very interesting. It's anaerobic and breaks down meats and fats and even bones.

Bokashi Composting a Simple Step by Step Guide for Composting Kitchen wastes

Try Bokashi Composting

Making Bokashi

Here's a page with pictures:

EM Bokashi
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