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Author Topic: composted bark and tree trunks  (Read 2545 times)


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composted bark and tree trunks
« on: January 04, 2015, 10:57:02 PM »
I have access to some very old fallen deciduous trees . Its not just the bark but a big % of the inside of the trunk that is very well decayed as well.It is quite fine and seems to have a similar texture to peat.
 I have mixed some into the soil where my heathers are along with some bought ericaceous compost.
Am I correct in thinking it helps increase acidity levels and has nutrient value as well.
 If so would it be useful for alpines that may like a slightly acid soil like some Gentians or "Lithadora diffuse".
               Cheers Rod..............
« Last Edit: January 04, 2015, 11:02:17 PM by mambrino »

Gene Mirro

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Re: composted bark and tree trunks
« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2015, 01:00:25 AM »
It might have a slight acidifying effect.  If you really want to increase acidity, you will need to apply sulfur or ammonium sulfate.  Do not apply aluminum sulfate.  Aluminum is toxic to plants.

Rotten wood has some nutrients, including NPK, Ca, Mg and trace elements, but they are not present in high concentrations.  They might be enough for heathers, but you would need more fertilizer if you were growing vegetables, for example.  By the way, you don't need to worry about applying a little Ca and Mg to acid-loving plants.  All green plants need some Ca and Mg. 

I think the best feature of rotten wood is that it is humus, and humus does wonderful things for soil structure and moisture and nutrient retention.  It will also encourage earthworms, so you have to decide if that's good or bad for you.  The bad part about humus is that it eventually disappears and needs to be replaced.  It lasts about two years, unless your climate is very cool. If you have plenty of rotten wood, you don't need to buy the ericaceous compost.

You will also discover that rotten wood is a wonderful medium for germinating seeds, including weed seeds.  That's why people use bark or wood chips.  They suppress weed germination.

When you are harvesting your decayed wood, watch out for carpenter ants, termites, borers, etc.  I would closely check for bee and wasp activity before digging into the stuff. 
« Last Edit: January 06, 2015, 01:04:34 AM by Gene Mirro »
Gene Mirro from the magnificent state of Washington

ian mcdonald

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Re: composted bark and tree trunks
« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2015, 10:49:28 AM »
Hello Mambrino, I hope you don,t find any termites if you are in England. There has been a lot of mis-information put out by the peat producing companies in the past regarding ericaceous plants needing peat. This is to get the public in the frame of mind that peat is necessary to grow ericaceous plants and therefore increase sales of peat, which in turn causes the destruction of peatlands. Ericaceous plants will probably die off if planted in limey soils. The way to grow these plants if your garden is on lime is to grow them in planters, such as large pots, troughs etc. Your fallen trees are probably a good home to lots of invertebrates and a useful habitat for wildlife?


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Re: composted bark and tree trunks
« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2015, 10:08:33 PM »
Thanks Gene and Ian for the replies . Its appreciated.


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