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Green / Brown mix

Hi all.

I am starting to develop a compost heap. I have a lot of shrub and hedge cuttings that have been left in a pile ready to be shredded. My question is about the green / brown combination.

When I cut the hedges a lot of what comes off is green. The shrub cuttings are generally woody so therefore brown. But the hedge cuttings that have been left for a couple of weeks are now no longer green in colour as they have dried out. Is this now classed as 'brown' or 'green'?

Many thanks


  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 34,061

    Don't get too hung up about green and brown. 

    Basically, you're aiming for a good mix of soft sappy material ( green ) and coarse woodier clippings ( brown) I tend to dump in what I've got to hand and worry about the mix later.

    The hedge clippings are perfect for compost, bit of leaf material, bit of twiggy material.

    When you turn your compost later, you'll soon see if you have too much green ( it'll be a bit smelly and slimy ) or too much brown ( it'll be woody and dry ) If this happens, mix these together. It'll usually sort itself out in the end.

    Practice is all you need to build confidence. Trust me,when you empty that first batch of lovely compost, you'll be thrilled. I've been doing  it for about 40 years and it's on the things in gardening which gives me the biggest thrill.

  • phill4phill4 Posts: 23

    Thanks  for the reply. That's kind of what I thought. I have tried to compost in the past in a smaller garden using one of the black plastic bins but was a complete failure. Over the past couple of weekends I have built a 3 bin system now that we have a larger garden and I need to recycle the waste as its too much to take to the tip.

    I'm now trying to find a good recommendation for a shredder to chew up the cuttings. They all seem to be either really cheap or very expensive.

  • herbaceousherbaceous Posts: 2,314

    Hosta is right Phil, I helped my Dad make his compost for years and green and brown were never mentioned. He talked about fast and slow which I now realise is more or less the same thing after getting paranoid about colour myself (sadly don't have my Dad around to ask anymore). Personally I think stirring and mixing are more important, then its just patience image

    "The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it."  Sir Terry Pratchett
  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 34,061

    Phill, I got a garden shredder from Freecycle. Give it a bash, you never know.

  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 16,720

    Have a look on gumtree for shredders. You may pick up one cheap, or now its end of season, the sheds(A & Z et al ) will be reducing them

     Getting the bits small is essential. You can use a rotary mower, but a shredder does a better job. I use builders bags for the first heat up. Put all your shredding in and mix in all the grass clippings. That heats up, and may go a bit dry. Then mix in the next lot of grass clippings. It often heats up again at this point. I then shovel it all into a bin to mature. If its a bit dry, turn the hosepipe on it.  Let the worms play around in it for a month or three.

    If its still a bit chunky, use it as mulch. Worms take down the fine stuff in to the soil, leaving chunks on the surface as mulch.

  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 34,061

    Phill, us chaps have the secret ingredient for good compost. You might want to have a bucket in a quiet discreet bit of the garden image then add it to the compost heap.

  • herbaceousherbaceous Posts: 2,314

    That is so unfair Hosta! My Mum wouldn't let my Dad do it as she said she wouldn't want to eat the veg - but then my Mum fed sweetcorn to the chickens 'cos she didn't know how to cook it image but our neighbour won prizes for his veg! I must learn to live with my gender handicap.............

    "The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it."  Sir Terry Pratchett
  • plant pauperplant pauper Posts: 6,234

    I handed my husband the watering can and looked at him expectantly. The first few times he had to take it to the bathroom!!! image 

    Now I just use stewed guinea pig cleanings. 

  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 34,061

    Lots of folk are a wee bit scared of  " gentlemen's recycling" but they're happy to layer horse and cow poo all over the placeimage

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