Adding Ornamental Grasses To Compost Bins - February 2024

We had "false Spring" last week when the temperatures rose to the upper 40's and low 50's, so that (naturally) lead me to getting out in the garden to do a little bit of work.   I went with the whole "leave the leaves" thing last Fall.  Well...sort-of.  I cleaned up A LOT of leaves.  But, wasn't super picky about things and left some leaves whole.  And, blew some other leaves on the lawn, chopped them up with my mulching mower, and blew those chopped-up bits back onto the beds.  

I also left ALL the standing material up all Winter.  That 'standing material' includes flower stalks and ornamental grasses.  Thanks to "Fall Dividing", we have ornamental grasses all over the place.  I've read a bunch of the posts/stories about the risks of doing a Spring Cleanup in the garden too soon; leading to some problems with nesting insects.  So, I opted - for now - to mostly leave the leaf litter in place. 

But, I figured I should go at those grasses.  Thanks to the snow, most of them were crumpled over and smashed down.  They provided plenty of winter interest BEFORE the deep snow, but their time has come to take down.  

In years past, I've approached the waste from these grasses in a few ways:  I've composted some of them and...I'm pretty sure that I tossed some of them in the trash.  This year, I decided to go all-in on keeping the plant material from my garden ON SITE.

And that means, chopping them up and putting them into the compost bins.  The problem?  There's A TON of blades and these hallow 'shoots' that are like mini bamboo poles.  I began to take down the grasses - mostly Karl Foerster Feather Reed Grasses - and began to chop them up in to segments. Some segments were one inch.  Some were three inches.  Some, I'd say, were five-to-six inches. 

And began to haul them back to the bins.  

Just last week, I showed the 3rd bin (my storage bin that has the "feed me" sign on it) top'd off with kitchen food scraps.  The level of the bin was WELL under the top edge at that time.    Before that view, the second-most-recent look was in December when I added pumpkins.  You can see that here.  

After taking down about three-quarters of the grasses in our garden, what does it look like?  FULL.  Below is a photo showing the current state.  The 'storage bin' on the left is over-full (and I packed it down as best I could) and have the remaining ornamental grass blades and canes are currently stacked on top of the other two bins.  Temporarily.  

Composting Ornamental Grasses - Compost Bin

I'm hoping that I'll get some compaction to the bin on the left.  When that happens, I'll move the rest of the canes to that storage bin.  

Worst case, I'm going to try to get back there to do a full turn on the compost piles in the coming weeks and mix in all the browns that exist in that storage bin into the other two.  Once I get the three bins mixed in a little bit, I'm sure we'll see some decomposition and will see the levels drop.

I'll round up the rest of the Spring Cleaning in the coming weeks first, then...find the time to pull everything out of the bins to do a proper reset.  


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