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Black walnut in compost?

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Black walnut in compost?

Post  JK on 12/13/2011, 4:31 pm

I am getting started on my first garden, slowly getting everything ready for spring. I started a compost pile and so far I mostly have leaves and pine needles. Ive been gradually adding fruit peelings, vegetable parts and I have coffee grounds on the way. As I read up on things...It's slowly occured to me that every single leaf that has been put in my pile is from a black walnut tree Shocked. So is my initial compost try a disaster in need of restarting or is it useable? Some things I read say black walnut is an absolute no no and elsewhere I think I read that once composted it was safe?

Also, any tips on how far a raised bed needs to be from the tree itself in order to suffer no ill effects?

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Re: Black walnut in compost?

Post  boffer on 12/13/2011, 4:37 pm

Greetings!

I would say this is the most thorough discussion about Black Walnut, that I recall on the forum. Hope it helps.

http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t6655-black-walnut-toxicity
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Re: Black walnut in compost?

Post  camprn on 12/13/2011, 5:17 pm

Welcome to the Forum JK! This is a great question!!! Very Happy I do not have any personal experience with Black Walnut trees but I have some with Butternuts.
Here is a thread from another forum. A lot of the links suggest that the active toxic ingredient juglone depletes during composting of the leaves. If the walnut trees are in your yard, you may need to be strategic in placing the garden. It is my understanding that the juglone is particularly high in the roots of the trees. Good luck and let us know what else you find out.

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Re: Black walnut in compost?

Post  camprn on 12/13/2011, 6:20 pm

Doh...
http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/load/soil/msg1016222815119.html <~~~~ Click

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Re: Black walnut in compost?

Post  UnderTheBlackWalnut on 12/13/2011, 7:14 pm

Hi!

I'm only slowly getting into SFG so I'm a rookie, but I've done quite a bit of reading on black walnut since as my monniker suggests, I'm gardening in close proximity to one. It is no lie that it's nasty to tomato plants.

Someone suggested to plant a tomato seedling in the compost and see if it thrives. That's going to tell you a lot about the juglone in the compost since tomatoes are one of the most julgone INtolerant plants. If it does, then you are obviously fine. If it starts to look "wilted" or yellow, then I'd use it only on more juglone tolerant plants and either purchase compost or start a separate compost pile for your tomatoes/peppers/etc. that does not contain the black walnut material. If you don't want to wait on your seedling (or try it indoors), then I'd probably NOT use it 100% on sensitive plants. I know several sources say not to use it for mulch, and that it would be okay composted, but as other posters have listed, the sources do contradict themselves. Maybe you could get some compost from another source and mix it for those beds with juglone sensitive plants. LOL Most people plan their beds by season, color, companion plants...but folks like us have to plan by juglone tolerance as well. Smile

The previous links give lots of resources for lists of juglone tolerant and intolerant plants but here is a quick rundown of the vegetables:

TOLERANT - squash, melon, bean, carrot, corn, beet, onion, parsnip
SENSITIVE - tomato, pepper, eggplant, potato, cabbage, asparagus, rhubarb

If it's not listed above, then there probably isn't too much documented about it. I was able to grow sugar snap peas at the edge of the dripline successfully, and I had some luck with cucumbers but am going to try those again this year and hope for a little bit better results. My raspberry grows well and I'm trying blueberry in pots as far away as possible (since those are sensitive), so we'll see.

It's awesome that you are doing your own composting. I'd love to know how it goes. Smile Please keep us posted. Smile
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Re: Black walnut in compost?

Post  JK on 12/14/2011, 8:17 am

Thanks for replies everyone Smile. Those links tell me pretty much everything I needed to know. Now if I can just get the compost to start composting... lol

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