Composting browns question

Asked August 15, 2019, 7:40 PM EDT

Hi! Can I use very old (layered, brown, crackly, falling apart) evergreen fronds as browns/carbon in compost? I have years of accumulation from my trees and a very nitrogen-heavy (wet) compost pile.

Multnomah County Oregon composting

1 Response

<Very Big Sigh>

Yes and no.
  1. Yes, it will provide airspace if worked into your very wet compost pile, which will help dry things out.
  2. HOWEVER, these evergreens developed largely in high and dry climates and have plenty of waxes and resins that will breakdown only very slowly. If you are willing to pull out the larger more objectionable pieces of fronds before you spread the compost there's no harm in using it this way.
  3. One thing you could incorporate right now (I see you live in the metro area) is shredded office paper. it could even be hand-torn newspaper. You might layer that in to your existing compost. It will readily break down, and it will absorb some of the free water. If you turned the compost every week or 10 days and worked in more shredded paper, you could have some fine compost in maybe a month or 6 weeks.
As an aside, I do store autumn leaves in trash bags so that I have a supply during the growing season. Not a help for you right now, but you might consider adding that to your plans.

Please write back if you have questions about any of the above.