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Author Topic: Would shredded conifer make good compost??  (Read 23072 times)

newstart

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Would shredded conifer make good compost??
« on: August 25, 2010, 06:39:51 PM »
I recently asked abouts composts and have took on board the very useful answers given here. I have had a large amount of bark delivered from a tree feller woodland service. It has a fair bit of conifer in to which you'd expect from them. I wondered about loads of pure conifer as a compost. The chap said to me on occasion that he has pure shredded conifer as he does 3 big trucks a day of bark or conifer. Like peat conifer is probably quite acid but could lime be added to it for instance along with sand and grit for drainage. Bark does rot down too but not as quick as conifer from what I have noticed. The chips are smaller than those bought from a garden centre however.

I hope this is a fun topic.

David.
David in Central England. Lots more still to learn!

Lesley Cox

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Re: Would shredded conifer make good compost??
« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2010, 10:05:00 PM »
We (as a nation) use huge quantities of pine bark in composts and as a mulch, crushed or chipped to various sizes and "fines" form the basis of all my composts. I don't think the conifer greenery is used though. Maybe it is, when shredded and composted.
Lesley Cox - near Dunedin, lower east coast, South Island of New Zealand - Zone 9

fermi de Sousa

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Re: Would shredded conifer make good compost??
« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2010, 04:09:46 AM »
David,
I have a feeling that when you say "compost" you mean "potting medium"! Shredded conifer (bark and/or foliage) should definitely be composted (allowed to rot down/decompose) before being used to pot up plants.
As Lesley mentioned for NZ we also mostly use composted pine bark for potting mixes here in Australia. The composting process usually brings the pH to around neutral but that maybe because lime or other alkaline ingredients are added.
Composting itself is half art and half science and probably a bit of magic as well ;D
Pure conifer would probably best be mixed with other shredded plant material/paper/manure to get the proper carbon/nitrogen ratio.
cheers
fermi
Mr Fermi de Sousa, Redesdale,
Victoria, Australia

Maren

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Re: Would shredded conifer make good compost??
« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2010, 09:48:02 AM »
Hi,
as an allotment gardener I have a fair bit of experience with conifer shreddings, but mainly used for paths between raised beds. They suppress weeds very effectively and take a long time to rot down. In fact, some of the older allotteers throw up their hands in horror and say that they "poison the soil" and should not be allowed. So perhaps the fresh shreddings are a bit toxic, they certainly have a lot of resin in them, more than broadleaf trees.

Composting must be the answer, as already mentioned by others. I have used the formula half green (grass clippings etc, shredded greenery) and half brown (woody and dead stuff). That mixture, well turned and left to mature, becomes a useful mulch over time and then part of the soil.
Maren in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom - Zone 8

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newstart

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Re: Would shredded conifer make good compost??
« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2010, 11:33:17 AM »
Oh gosh I am terrible ! I keep getting new ideas!

It is indeed for a potting medium as an end result I speak of.  I now have a sycamore tree next to me in my street as mentioned about 3 days ago, conifer shreddings (from a woodland tree service free) and old potting material loam/peat/sand. If I do each layer differently and wet it I think its in between being a leaf mould and compost(because of added the soil too).

The leaf mould will be a little acidic and the soil (less of unfortunately) will bring some balance but probably less than neutral on the scale. I could add extra soil I suppose ? The shredded conifer this time round does have up to 2cm bark chips as 50% of the mix (smaller than garden centre stuff).

For mulching or soil conditioning-

Another question while I am here is can I dig in the bark and conifer so it acts as a soil conditioner in its current state. If not it would act as a good mulch rotting down in between ?

I find the size of mulch often falls over small plants when mulched how can this be remedied-has anyone any tricks?

Would be excellent to here what people do this is such a great forum! and thanks.

David.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2010, 11:36:14 AM by newstart »
David in Central England. Lots more still to learn!

Maggi Young

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Re: Would shredded conifer make good compost??
« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2010, 11:51:24 AM »
You should not dig it in or mulch it over plants "raw"... that is to say, uncomposted/rotted down. It needs to kave a good period heating up in a heap to render it in good order for use. We have used "raw" chippings/shreddings from assorted deciduous tree branches as a path mulch, but NOT over plants.
We have, in the past, used privet hedge shreddings as a mulch after only a couple of months  but they were in a largs mixed heap and really heated up for almost the entire period and were in a nice mulch condition when we needed to use them quickly. Ideally we wait at least six months before using composted shreddings.

Any mulch spread carelessly will cover little plants.... so you just have to be careful when spreading it and tidy around them.  That's just a easy as putting a collar/tube of newspaper around the plants as you spread to keep them clean... it's all work, no matter how you do it!
Margaret Young in Aberdeen, North East Scotland Zone 7 -ish!

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newstart

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Re: Would shredded conifer make good compost??
« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2010, 12:37:15 PM »
Thanks Maggie your a star! so that sorts out the mulching side of things. Has anyone any ideas on the compost/leafmould  conifer,scycamore leaves and soil mixed in layers. Is this to acidic for alpines as a potting medium. The scycamore is okay from what was said previously although added lime may be a good thing here-not sure.

Thank you again David.
David in Central England. Lots more still to learn!

Maggi Young

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Re: Would shredded conifer make good compost??
« Reply #7 on: August 26, 2010, 12:47:37 PM »
David, your suggested mix of ingredients sounds fine.... I would make the heap, let it rot and then test is with one of the little testing kits out there to see what the final result comes up as.

Another way to see how a compost,/potting mix, whatever is like  asa growing medium is to take a potfull and sow some sort of fast growing common seed in it.... that could be mustard and cress or a grass seed mix..... if the seed germinates well and grows on strongly with no yellowing, distortion, wilting etc.. then you're pretty sure that what you've made is a reasonable potting medium and certainly not hugely "toxic" ..... 8)
Margaret Young in Aberdeen, North East Scotland Zone 7 -ish!

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newstart

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Re: Would shredded conifer make good compost??
« Reply #8 on: August 26, 2010, 12:58:36 PM »
Okay as its leaf mould predominantly I think i ought to treat it as such even if old loam is added as less than one third of the heap. If I get a good relationship going with this tree feller I could have my personal recycling plant this rate, Ho Ho!
David in Central England. Lots more still to learn!

arisaema

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Re: Would shredded conifer make good compost??
« Reply #9 on: August 26, 2010, 04:56:42 PM »
I'd add some nitrogen to speed things up, either chicken or grass clippings - wood chips and bark need a lot of it to break down properly. I'm not sure what sort of alpines you'd like to grow, but my standard mix for pretty much everything is 20% perlite, 10% clay, 45% (neutral) peat and 25% composted bark + Osmocote.

newstart

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Re: Would shredded conifer make good compost??
« Reply #10 on: August 26, 2010, 05:42:31 PM »
Thanks.
David in Central England. Lots more still to learn!

Bill Chudziak

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Re: Would shredded conifer make good compost??
« Reply #11 on: September 02, 2010, 06:29:39 PM »
At the gardens here, one way we have made potting compost is by mixing conifer woodchips and kitchen waste in a powered compost accelerator. Its heated and has an internal turning blade and it takes the compost a couple of weeks to emerge at the other end of the accelerator. Normally, you stack this product for a minimum of 6 months before use, but I have potted up directly into the fresh product, and successfully grown tomatoes to fruit.

 

Maren

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Re: Would shredded conifer make good compost??
« Reply #12 on: September 02, 2010, 06:36:37 PM »
Sounds ideal. How much did you pay for the powered accelerator?
Maren in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom - Zone 8

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Bill Chudziak

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Re: Would shredded conifer make good compost??
« Reply #13 on: September 04, 2010, 03:53:11 PM »
Sounds ideal. How much did you pay for the powered accelerator?

hey Maren,  here's a link to what we use.


http://www.quickcompost.co.uk/a500-rocket-composter-accelerated-compost-food-waste.shtml


I'm not sure of the price but give them a call. You never know, they may have an ex-demonstrator you can try out.

It is quite surprising just how much stuff you can put through them, and i often put woodchips and lawnclippings through just to keep the 50/50 balance of green material and woody material on the go. It also has a heated blanket which prevents any coldspots from developing on the outside edge. The only slight drawback i would say is the smell. I'll make no bones about it. It stinks!

Maren

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Re: Would shredded conifer make good compost??
« Reply #14 on: September 04, 2010, 06:38:08 PM »
Oh boy, a bit out of my league in terms of cost and siting requirements. Also, it's like having a dog, you have to feed it every day, I don't think I want to be tied down that much. But thank you for sharing, it looks just the job. :)
Maren in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom - Zone 8

http://www.heritageorchids.co.uk/

 


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