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wood chip mulch as compost?

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wood chip mulch as compost?

Post  gingeandhales on 3/30/2011, 6:50 pm

I live on a school campus and right near my apartment there are huge piles of wood chips that we use for mulch. I noticed that some of the older piles have broken down into a compost-looking pile. Is this type of compost nutritious enough to consider 1/5 of my compost, or is it more of a filler type of compost? If I can use it (with permission from the maintenance crew of course), then I will be doing the happy dance because that will save me some $$ and time.

We also have some piles of horse manure, the newest delivery still looks fresh from the horse, but an older pile looks like compost. How can I know for sure if it is ready for a veggie garden?

And third question, is with the piles of leaves that has decomposed. I am worried about using this because I am afraid of weeds and raccoon droppings. These piles are located a little bit deeper in the woods then the wood chips and manure so I am sure more animals and invasive seeds have access to it. I'm sure it is safe for landscaping purposes, but what about for veggies?

If these three sources work out than I will be less apprehensive about spending the $$ to buy a ton of vermiculite in ridiculously small packages (which seems to be all that is carried in my neck of the woods).

gingeandhales

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Re: wood chip mulch as compost?

Post  Odd Duck on 3/31/2011, 12:50 pm

I would use all 3 of these resources, but would probably supplement them a little. Since each is truly a single source and were not mixed (the best compost is made when these types of ingredients are mixed, then composted), you might consider putting some good, organic fertilizer into the mix. There appear to be interactions among the "brown" (wood shavings) and "green" (manure) ingredients that make the final compost even better than each alone. You will get there when you mix them together, but it might take longer to see the full effect. You also have higher risk of weed seeds when the browns and greens weren't mixed, because you don't get the same heat that kills the weeds and pathogens. If your manure's been aging long enough - has no recognizable bits, no manure odor, etc, (one source says at least 18 months), it's ready. Wood chips and leaves should be ready when they don't look like wood chips or leaves anymore. If you can fill in your 5 compost list with a really good quality commercial blend that has a good variety of ingredients listed, I'd think you're ready.

Also, the vermiculite (and peat) is far less important than variety in your compost sources. The vermiculite (and peat) is for moisture and texture, not nutrients. Remember, Mel recommends straight compost when vermiculite and peat aren't available. If you had all 3 of these compost sources (plus 2 more), you would have pretty good texture and moisture retention right away without any peat or vermiculite. I have no peat or vermiculite in my beds other than what has worked itself in from seed starting mixes or from composting leftover potting soil.

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Re: wood chip mulch as compost?

Post  FarmerValerie on 3/31/2011, 12:59 pm

Check the vermiculite database here and see if there is a company that can ship it to you for a reasonable price, you may save more on shipping than buying smaller bags. Just a thought.

http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/f30-vermiculite-information

oops here's the other link.
http://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0AkxGrCEb40U2dExrM09fbk9zWnE4cC1Gb2oyamVOMVE&hl=en#gid=0


Last edited by FarmerValerie on 3/31/2011, 1:00 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : forgot a link)

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Re: wood chip mulch as compost?

Post  ashort on 3/31/2011, 1:16 pm

@FarmerValerie wrote:Check the vermiculite database here and see if there is a company that can ship it to you for a reasonable price, you may save more on shipping than buying smaller bags. Just a thought.

http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/f30-vermiculite-information

oops here's the other link.
[url=http://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0AkxGrCEb40U2dExrM09fbk9zWnE4cC1Gb2oyamVOMVE&hl=en#gid=0
http://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0AkxGrCEb40U2dExrM09fbk9zWnE4cC1Gb2oyamVOMVE&hl=en#gid=0[/quote[/url]]

My guess is shipping will be expensive through traditional means. It is not that the stuff weighs much, but there are volumetric aspects to shipping costs. The most cost effective way would be freight on a semi, but you are going to have buy a pallet full for it make any sense... Maybe there are others in your area that could split the cost up. Check to see if there are any hydroponic growers in your area, lots of them use vermi....

ashort

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Re: wood chip mulch as compost?

Post  FarmerValerie on 3/31/2011, 1:19 pm

Pool companies are a good source too. Check your local garden centers, they may order for you, or have a list of names of people who want to "go in together" on a pallet.

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Re: wood chip mulch as compost?

Post  gingeandhales on 3/31/2011, 8:46 pm

Thank you for all of your responses. I found a place that sells the vermiculite in the 4 cubic foot bags out by my parent's house. I will head out there this weekend and look for additional types of composts to add to what I have handy. This is all coming together!

gingeandhales

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Re: wood chip mulch as compost?

Post  WardinWake on 4/1/2011, 6:11 am

@gingeandhales wrote:Thank you for all of your responses. I found a place that sells the vermiculite in the 4 cubic foot bags out by my parent's house. I will head out there this weekend and look for additional types of composts to add to what I have handy. This is all coming together!

Gingeanhales:

So glad your gardening is coming together. When you have blended compost no supplements are needed. I know that gardeners are a tinkering lot and like to try this and try that, but, for your first year in a SFG stick to the recipe that Mel developed. You will find that it will work for you. Mel spent many, many years developing the formula and found that 1/3 vermiculite, 1/3 peat moss and 1/3 compost works without the expense of this supplement or that. Mel's Mix works and it works the world over.

God Bless, Ward and Mary.

WardinWake

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Re: wood chip mulch as compost?

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