Monday, April 20, 2009

A question for gardening experts...

You're not supposed to use wood chips as mulch on your plants unless it's been aged. The explanation given is that as the wood rots, it will (initially at least) leach nitrogen from your soil that your plants would otherwise be able to use.

You're also not supposed to use manure on your garden unless it's been aged, because it is too high in nitrogen and can burn your plants.

So what if (hypothetically) I have wood chips and chicken manure mixed together that haven't been aged. Say, like bedding in a chicken pen. What if I cleaned out our chicken pen and used the bedding directly as mulch? Could the two pieces of conventional wisdom above cancel each other out?

Two points, before you answer:

1. This is non-edible landscaping. Shrubs and such.
2. I already did it.

What can I say? I like to live dangerously.

And on a side note - the old riding mower I bought last week is already dead. The curse lives.


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At 4/20/2009 9:23 PM, Blogger Wendy said...

Wait. What was the question?

I don't know if they cancel each other out, but I'm a firm believer in experimenting ... and learning (most of the time) from my own mistakes. Sometimes what works or doesn't work for other people will have a different result in my different climate/circumstances.

But I'm far from an expert gardener. I'm not sure I can even claim the title "gardener."

At 4/20/2009 9:33 PM, Blogger e4 said...

Yeah, the question was kind of vague. Is my logic sound? Has anybody tried this? Am I killing my plants?

I didn't put it on anything I cared deeply about. The cat scratching already killed the Japanese maple in that bed. The roses should be pretty tough. Most of it can be easily replaced/improved if necessary.

At 4/20/2009 10:59 PM, Blogger baloghblog said...

I would think that wood chips + manure = compost (C + N). If the ratio was right, I suppose that your plants would have nothing more than warm roots.

At 4/20/2009 11:00 PM, Blogger baloghblog said...

I'd take my advice with a salt lick though, as I am far from an expert.

At 4/21/2009 8:21 AM, Blogger Matt said...

I've used wood chips in my beds with no problems, so screw the "experts". I've come to doubt experts more and more.

I think the manure rule applies only to pure manure. Mixed with carbon I haven't seen any problem.

At 4/21/2009 12:44 PM, Blogger Bill Harshaw said...

Not an expert, but I'd think you'd be okay. Chicken manure is "hot" so it needs something to dilute the effect. My late mother was in Wendy's camp, always experimenting.

At 4/27/2009 6:07 AM, Blogger arv said...

Non-edible you said ? Who cares , you won't starve if all burns down :-) .
Seriously , it should not be a major issue , chicken manure will give a short time spurt of nitrogen and the wood mulch will give you long term gains and theoretically they should neutralize nitrogen leaching and overabundance but practically ........ keep us informed .


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