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Too much wood in this to use now?

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Too much wood in this to use now?

Post  couponmagic on 4/6/2013, 3:59 pm

I seem to worry about every little thing! I opened this bag of "mushroom compost" and it is quite woody. I keep reading that wood that is not fully composted is bad to use... so my question is, is this bag of compost unusable in its current form? Do I need to "screen" it ? Or am I just worrying entirely too much?

Thanks!





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Re: Too much wood in this to use now?

Post  plantoid on 4/6/2013, 4:30 pm

I'd go and buy a different companies compost and sprinkle that rubbish on the compost heap a couple of hands full each week .

You're right to to have realized it is full of nitrogen robbing uncomposted material.
It would most likely do your bed in for a year or two before it decayed enough to start producing it's own nitrogen instead of consuming what is in the compost.


Verdict : - Shocked DREADFUL STUFF affraid

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Re: Too much wood in this to use now?

Post  couponmagic on 4/6/2013, 5:53 pm

Thanks Plantoid! That would've made for an awful first experience. There are enough hurdles (imagined or no) without that one! I opened a bag of the cotton compost I bought at the local feed and seed store it was beautiful & dark with no lumpy stuff at all. I'll just set that mushroom one aside... time to start a compost pile!

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Re: Too much wood in this to use now?

Post  CapeCoddess on 4/6/2013, 6:16 pm

Seems a shame to send the whole bag to the compost pile. Can you sift it?

CC

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Ho much wood is too much?

Post  edfhinton on 4/6/2013, 7:13 pm

Hmmm. How much wood is too much? I bought the premixed Mel's Mix and had it delivered from Home Depot. If I fill a 4" pot with mix, I will have on average 1 or 2 sticks in it that, while very black, are about 1/8" thick and 1 inch to 1.5 inches long. I have assumed that there is a level of quality control to have Mel's picture on the bag. But I was surprised to find any sticks at all. Should I be concerned or is that little enough remaining woody material not to worry about? have only opened one bag so far and gotten 1/3 through it because I haven't got the beds built yet, so I do not know if that is representative of all 28 bags I bought.

Thanks,

-Ed

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Re: Too much wood in this to use now?

Post  camprn on 4/6/2013, 7:20 pm

The sieves they use for the compost don't catch 100% of the larger stuff. I would say, if you have so few chunks or sticks, you are doing well.

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Re: Too much wood in this to use now?

Post  plantoid on 4/6/2013, 7:47 pm

@CapeCoddess wrote:Seems a shame to send the whole bag to the compost pile. Can you sift it?

CC

CC I've never heard of wood being used in commercial mushroom production ( I trained for a while to become a small mushroom farm under manager )
It might have some mushroom compost in it but what else is in it besides the timber ?

I reckon there would be a good case for getting a refund if the picture & one of the label of the sack it came in are sent to the producer with the complaint that it is not fit for purpose nor as the description it was sold as .

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Re: Too much wood in this to use now?

Post  Triciasgarden on 4/6/2013, 7:51 pm

I would take it back and see if you can find something else if possible.

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Re: Too much wood in this to use now?

Post  camprn on 4/6/2013, 7:52 pm

@plantoid wrote:
@CapeCoddess wrote:Seems a shame to send the whole bag to the compost pile. Can you sift it?

CC

CC I've never heard of wood being used in commercial mushroom production ( I trained for a while to become a small mushroom farm under manager )
It might have some mushroom compost in it but what else is in it besides the timber ?

I reckon there would be a good case for getting a refund if the picture & one of the label of the sack it came in are sent to the producer with the complaint that it is not fit for purpose nor as the description it was sold as .
+1

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Re: Too much wood in this to use now?

Post  CapeCoddess on 4/6/2013, 9:03 pm

@plantoid wrote:I've never heard of wood being used in commercial mushroom production ( I trained for a while to become a small mushroom farm under manager )

I never knew this. Thanks for the lesson, Plantoid! Very Happy The closest I've come to mushrooms for plants is the water I saved today from blanching (then freezing) 10 lbs of shrooms. Is that water any good for watering my veggies with? Should it be diluted? Looks pretty strong.

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Re: Too much wood in this to use now?

Post  couponmagic on 4/6/2013, 9:04 pm

It looked more like topsoil to be honest. Of course, I had to open a nice bag of compost to recognize that. And that big clump in the second photo, that isn't compost but a big rock. I bagged it all back up and I may return it. I'll probably have to find my receipt. It came from a big box - HD or Lowe's. The stuff I got from the feed & seed looked like blue ribbon compost in comparison. If I can't find my receipt, I'll compost it.

Thank you everyone!

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Re: Too much wood in this to use now?

Post  southern gardener on 4/7/2013, 2:51 am

@edfhinton wrote:Hmmm. How much wood is too much? I bought the premixed Mel's Mix and had it delivered from Home Depot. If I fill a 4" pot with mix, I will have on average 1 or 2 sticks in it that, while very black, are about 1/8" thick and 1 inch to 1.5 inches long. I have assumed that there is a level of quality control to have Mel's picture on the bag. But I was surprised to find any sticks at all. Should I be concerned or is that little enough remaining woody material not to worry about? have only opened one bag so far and gotten 1/3 through it because I haven't got the beds built yet, so I do not know if that is representative of all 28 bags I bought.

Thanks,

-Ed

Pour out the bag and see if there are more pieces of that size or larger. There shouldn't be large pieces in composted mix. I am curious to see what you find. Thanks!

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Re: Too much wood in this to use now?

Post  Gunny on 4/7/2013, 7:28 pm

I have found that by sifting all of my ingredients I get the big stuff out for use as a mulch later on. At first it was a half inch screen and now a quarter inch screen. Most of the compost has a lot of wood in it. I even sifted the peatmoss and found lots of woody material in that too. I have a bag of "garden time" SFG mix that is unopened as yet and am waiting to get a yard of 1/8" screen to make a third sifter so I can get a finer mix for the boxes. One lesson I have learned so far is that 50 square feet of garden space is not enough to do the job for the two of us. So when my spring planting season begins in Sept. I will be ready with more boxes even if I have to make them below ground level using the clay ground for a container, it is harder than stone to try and dig up but where there is a will a way will be found. Just have to work on an idea for drainage, it takes forever for water to perk its way down. May have to go deeper and use the woody stuff from the bags of compost as the initial layer. It sure makes me sad that about a third of the stuff I bought is wood and not all forestry wood at that. I found some pieces with paint on them and the bags were certified organic with the AMRI seal on them. I have enough of my own compost going that I will be able to fill about eight boxes when the time comes, so there is that.

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Re: Too much wood in this to use now?

Post  couponmagic on 4/7/2013, 8:51 pm

Wow, organic and it has paint. I'm sorry Gunny but I am glad you have some made to fall back on. I guess many of these bags are just bags of whatever was laying around it seems.

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Re: Too much wood in this to use now?

Post  Coelli on 4/7/2013, 11:15 pm

@Gunny wrote:I found some pieces with paint on them and the bags were certified organic with the AMRI seal on them. I have enough of my own compost going that I will be able to fill about eight boxes when the time comes, so there is that.

Gunny, I bought some Miracle Gro Organic Choice Garden Soil that was chock full of pieces of plastic (including intact pellet gun pellets), glass, tinfoil, and paint chips. I was dismayed. I contacted Scotts and they claimed it shouldn't be like that (gee, ya think?) and sent me a refund check for 1 of my 3 bags, which I have not cashed.

I then contacted OMRI, since Scotts told me it was OMRI certified, and got this response:

Thank you for letting us know your concerns about Miracle-Gro Organic Choice Garden Soil.

OMRI does a full review of the ingredients and manufacturing process of each product on the OMRI Products List to determine their compliance with the National Organic Standards. The contaminants that you describe can be typical for products made with compost or greenwaste. Yard clippings and food scraps commonly contain contaminants because they are collected from a variety of sources. When these types of materials are used, OMRI requires the company to take steps to remove contaminants. We commonly see techniques such as visual inspection, screening, magnets, refusing loads, etc. Even with these methods in place, some small contaminants might make it through to the final product.

Then told me I should take it up with the company and if I really wanted to I could file a complaint with OMRI (which I did not).

Long story short: I no longer consider OMRI certification as trustworthy as by their own admission it's up to the company to comply and they don't seem to actually inspect the product, they go by what the company is reporting their ingredients and processes to be.

Really disappointing. Sad

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Re: Too much wood in this to use now?

Post  Gunny on 4/8/2013, 12:12 am

Oh yah,
That is as bad as companys funding their own studies to show that their products are safe in the food chain so that the government will okay them for consumption by the masses. Go figure. Just have to trust our own stuff.
And yah, I did find plastic, glass and other manmade stuff in the compost. Now I wonder what is in the boxes with the first batch of MM that I made. I didn't start sifting until I stated reading this topic. Looks like I'll be sifting one square at a time as I rotate crops until I get them all clean. I can't afford to go out and by all new ingredients again. That first batch was enough. If I have to I'll replace some of the peatmoss and vermiculite with the insides of disposable diapers. That will work for water retention in the boxes and save a whole lot of money in the process. I see another experiment coming on the fall when my real growing season starts.

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Re: Too much wood in this to use now?

Post  Triciasgarden on 4/8/2013, 12:49 pm

In theory it sounds like a good idea to use diapers because they absorb moisture, but I don't think they would then release the moisture for the plants to use. In addition the insides are made of chemicals which I wouldn't want next to my food. I found this info on eHow:

"A pad in the middle of the diaper is made using a synthetic polymer manufactured from fine particles of an acrylic, along with another acrylic derivative, both of which act like sponges to absorb moisture. This chemical compound allows for a diaper to be absorbent without being too thick or bulky. Tiny crystals inside the polymer turn into a gel when the pad gets wet. The wood pulp from pine trees is mixed in with the polymer to create the fill material for the pad. The wood fibers act like straws to help suck up water."

We wouldn't know what chemicals are released if these crystals come in contact with the sun or if the chemicals would absorb the nutrients in the soil, etc. I think it is enough work to make great compost and mix the three ingredients and plant. I want to give my plants the best environment I am able to so they can grow and feed my family as nutritiously as possible.

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Re: Too much wood in this to use now?

Post  Gunny on 4/8/2013, 2:28 pm

Those little water collecting thingies are the same you pay big bucks for at the garden stores. They are also used in the making of neck cooling wraps that one wears to beat the summer heat. This is a far more less expensive way to accomplish the same end. I believe it is called synthetic or syntha soil and has been around for a very long time as a soil amendment. What works for some may not work for others depending on climate. For me with my high heat and quick evaporation, it may make growing in summer an option that I would not otherwise have. Down here summer is the off season as winter is for much of the country. Any edge against heat is an option to try and discard if it doesn't work. I bet if one were to find a bag costing $25 or more in the store and checking the makings, it would come up the same as whats inside the disposable diapers at far less expense. Some folks don't have a lot of capital to invest in their projects and try to get by as best they can and that is the whole point of the three R's when it comes down to it. If this idea will save my poor pocket book from being empty all the time then I am all for it. Think about how much it costs to set up a garden in the first place. I darn near had to go into hock for enough media to get started. For some $300 is a drop in the bucket and for others it means not having good food until the garden is up and running. Anything that can save Jane Smucitilli a dime is a dime she can add to the food budget and that is where I am coming from having spent my childhood in a welfare home where there was not a lot of anything I learned how to make do with what was available and that translated into "field expediency" in my military life. Sorry, don't mean to preach, but there is way to much headed for the land fill that can be used in other ways than what it was designed for. An example is my new avatar, these old broken horse feeders were on their way to the dump and now are serving a useful purpose as planters.

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Re: Too much wood in this to use now?

Post  WI FarmChick on 4/8/2013, 4:10 pm

Hi Gunny, I love your horse feeder planters! That was such a great Idea. Sounds like you are very resourceful.


We all are trying not to let these hard times break us. we all need to do what we can to get by these days.


Good luck Gunny with retaining water in your garden by any means you can.




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Re: Too much wood in this to use now?

Post  jazzycat on 4/8/2013, 9:43 pm

Personally, I wouldn't use diapers. I did buy both vermiculite and perlite and mix them together in order to save a few bucks. I understand now why he (Mel) likes vermiculite better, from what I've seen so far. But it's so darn expensive. Why not try the perlite? You can get a HUGE 4 cft bag for not much money at all.

As for the rest, that's pretty scary Gunny. I spent the money for several good compost sources, and I would be HIGHLY pissed off if I found wood with paint on it or glass in my mix. You can bet people would be getting an earFUL.

As for cleaning up the chemicals in your garden, I would suggest getting some BioZome. I am new at all of this, but I have read about it, and it's recommended by several sources I trust. It's a blend of beneficial microorganisms that actually eat oil, and plastics are made from oil. I believe these organisms are also used to clean up toxic waste. So if your garden is contaminated, it can't hurt, right? And a little goes a loooong way (apparently). http://www.biozome.com/pages/what.html

And I would never, ever, buy Miracle Grow, organic or not. I don't trust that company. It seems it's getting more and more difficult to trust the information out there coming from corporate (or government) sources anymore, which is why I decided to have a garden in the first place.

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Re: Too much wood in this to use now?

Post  jazzycat on 4/8/2013, 9:45 pm

OH! And Gunny, what about wood chips? I've read and heard so much about them lately, and one of the properties they have, is they retain water! Go to the "Back to Eden" thread and maybe watch the film about it. There are also other sources available about this issue, if you need them.

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Re: Too much wood in this to use now?

Post  Gunny on 4/8/2013, 11:54 pm

Been there and saw that plus more on youtube. I really dont know if that method will work down here so set up an experimental area that is covered in wood chips that were sifted out of the compost. Waiting to see how the three sisters react to it. Used sunflowers instead of corn as the center and already have some squash in it. Waiting on sunflowers to get high enough before putting the beans in. Time will tell. At least for now I have a use for the chips besides running them through the long turm composting process, it would probably take three years for them to break down and then again could just use em as mulch. Will see what happens with the experimental garden before I decide which way to go.

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Re: Too much wood in this to use now?

Post  Coelli on 4/9/2013, 12:13 am

Gunny, you could also look into rice hulls instead of vermiculite. I paid $11 for a big bale of them (about 6 cubic feet, probably more when expanded) at the feed store, and that's in my semi-urban area on the edge of Los Angeles. In reading up on them, people use them in potting soil instead of perlite or vermiculite. They do eventually break down but it takes a couple of years. I'm using them to mulch pretty much everything in my garden and so far (it's only been a few days) I am REALLY impressed. They stay bone dry and repel water, so the water goes right down to the soil and when I sweep the hulls aside to check, the soil underneath is still damp. Because they stay dry I've been able to mulch fairly deeply. I used them in place of vermiculite in a bucket for peppers, so we'll see how those do.

While my weather isn't as hot as yours, we will still have weeks of hot hot dry summer weather and I think the rice hulls are going to be the ticket. Surprisingly, though we had a pretty good windstorm here they also stayed put fairly well - some did fly around the yard, but not nearly as many as I feared.

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Re: Too much wood in this to use now?

Post  Gunny on 4/9/2013, 12:28 am

I will check into the rice hulls. You should have been here today, winds all day at 35 and gusting to 45. Did some politician break wind over there on the coast, nah, its not hot wind. At least its cooled things down for a little anyway.

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Re: Too much wood in this to use now?

Post  Coelli on 4/9/2013, 12:49 am

@Gunny wrote:I will check into the rice hulls. You should have been here today, winds all day at 35 and gusting to 45. Did some politician break wind over there on the coast, nah, its not hot wind. At least its cooled things down for a little anyway.

That sounds about what our winds were today too (and we're on the edge of a canyon). Not too far from here they recorded a 95mph gust in the wee hours this morning. Lots of stuff blew over/around in the yard, but none of my tomatoes toppled and that's really all I care about. Smile We get lots of high winds here, especially in the fall when the Santa Anas blow through.

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