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Repurposing invasive species to build soil

 
Jim Clare
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Introduction
Hello all. This is my first post to this forum which I enjoy and have been reading for around two months. I am from Ann Arbor, MI and just stated gardening.

On my property which is just a little over a normal city lot I have a mini pine forest (around 10 trees) growing along my back fence. This summer I cut down probably 30 - 40 Buckthorn bushes because it seemed like they were killing my pines. They grew up into the lower branches and filled the entire mini forest.

Now, they are growing back from the roots which I didn't remove. It occurred to me that it may be a good idea to cut these little shoots down and throw them in my garden (which is around 50 yards from the mini forest) like a chop and drop type thing to help build up organic material.

Also, I am starting a new garden area and was wondering if I could just throw them there as well and over time it would help build up the soil. The area is currently just grass, a little top soil then clay.

Is this a bad idea? My thought is that while it is decomposing in my veggie garden it would use up nitrogen or something like that and my peppers would not do so well. I am new so this may not be a good assumption.

Essentially I want to take something that was undesirable and use it to do something useful.

Thanks,

Jim

 
maikeru sumi-e
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Good idea. Just watch out for a few species like morning glories that can root from fragments. Those require either thorough drying in the sun or hot composting to kill 'em good and render them safe for mulching. If mulch goes on top of the soil, you don't need to worry about N being tied up. If mixed into the soil, depending on material, possibly a concern.
 
Jim Clare
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Thanks for the advice. I do have morning glories growing along the back fence which I am going to rip out and let dry in the sun.

Jim
 
Paul Cereghino
gardener
Posts: 855
Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
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Agroforestry calls it 'cut and carry' as opposed to 'chop and drop'.

All carbon should be treasured and put to best use.
 
I make brush piles in the location of future tree planting sites to kill to sod and then pee on them.  A disadvantage of use woody mulch in a tillage vegetable situation is that future tillage can mix the woody material into the soil column and potentially reduce the vigor of crops dependent on lots of free nitrogen.
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Pie
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Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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If you find that the material is becoming too bulky for your garden space some of it could be turned into charcoal. There are dozens of YouTube videos demonstrating this process. The charcoal can be used as a soil amendment.

    There is a disease of pines in your area which is associated with black currants. They are host to the disease which attacks five needle pines. In some areas it's illegal to cultivate black currants because of this danger.

  And on an absolutely unrelated note Ann Arbor's most famous son is Bob Seeger. His song "Main Street" is really about Ann St. which I'm sure you've driven down many times.
 
Takaya Chi
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Hello Jim,

After reading about your issue and plan, it appeared to me that perhaps there is another alternative that you had not yet considered.

Do you have a compost pile yet?

If not why not start one and add these tips into your compost pile, then once your compost is ready you can apply that to your garden ultimately achieving your end goal of re utilizing the plants your cutting down.

Best of luck saving those trees!

Cheers
Takaya Chi
 
Jordan Lowery
pollinator
Posts: 1528
Location: zone 7
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I have done the same thing with an invasive acacia tree. I would cut it back to a stump and within a month I had a huge amount of biomass. I would repeat this all The time for weed seed free mulch. at the same time the area around the acacia became incredibly fertile.
 
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