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English laurel, black walnut, and blackberry canes in hugelculture?

 
Pamela Melcher
Posts: 299
Location: Portland, Oregon Maritime, temperate, zone 7-8.
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I have a large abundance of black walnut branches, English laurel wood, and cut blackberry canes.

I am not sure if they would be OK as the wood base in hugelculture beds.

Black walnuts are allelopathic, and I am not sure if the rotting wood would also be allelopathic? It seems that it would be OK near, and supporting plants, that are juglone tolerant?

I have heard that English laurel woood contains arsenic. Would it be toxic to use as wood in a hugelculture bed?

Are blackberry canes useful? They are somewhat hollow inside. I would love it if they are OK, as I am very pressed about what to do with the many that I cut back.

Thank you all for any help you can give me on the subject.

 
wayne stephen
steward
Posts: 1793
Location: Western Kentucky-Climate Unpredictable Zone 6b
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From what I have read about Black Walnut the juglone has a shelf life of about 2 months. Our garden area is just outside the root ball of 3 good sized trees and alot of tree debris , nuts, fall into the garden each fall . No problem getting anything to germinate each spring. I imagine the same would be true for buried wood.
 
Kyle Williams
Posts: 53
Location: Olympia, WA
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I want to revive this topic. Does English Laurel have any useful function in a permaculture system? It is rampant in Portland, and I'm wondering if it can be used as any support of support species, be it fodder, mulch, or anything else?

Several of the houses I'm looking at buying here in Portland are hedged with English Laurel. If I buy one of these, and if I want to replace this hedge with some kind of fedge, do I want to leave any of the Laurel? Can I use it as mulch, compost, hugel core, etc.?

Thanks all, for your help!
 
Nick Segner
Posts: 29
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Laurel is a great plant to have around IMO. It's so vigorous and works great as a coppice, I've been mulching with it (ramial), and the bumblebees absolutely love it.
 
Brian Hamalainen
Posts: 100
Location: Chimacum, WA Sunset Zone 5, USDA Zone 8B
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Laurels contain Hydrogen Cyanide, which is of course extremely toxic. Cyanide gas is released from them when burned or crushed (which is what muching does).

If it can withstand being dried and then burned, it can withstand being composted. Even if your veggies manage not to absorb it somehow (I think it does get absorbed, but im not sure), your soil that you'd be working through will be laden with Cyanide.

I'd avoid it like the plague and I'd guess that Nick S. above is probably plain old lucky.
 
Nick Segner
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It wasn't luck it was research!

We looked into and asked questions online before mulching our laurel.. Right, English Laurel is high in cyanide (not arsenic as suggested above).

Check out these threads:

http://www.permies.com/t/25618/mulch/Laurel-Hedge-mulch

http://www.permies.com/t/849/plants/Laurel-Leaves-Mulch

http://groworganicapples.com/phorum/read.php?15,225

We let the laurel sit and dry out before chipping. Most complaints I could find online had to do with shredding the fresh leaves.. However it did still have that almondy smell indicating the cyanide. We had no ill effects, it was a pleasant smell..

Actually we were hoping to utilize the additional function of the laurel cyanide to scorch the grass in our orchard but that didnt happen unfortunately. It's apparently broken down by soil bacteria very quickly. Made a great mulch for our apple trees.

Nick
 
Pamela Melcher
Posts: 299
Location: Portland, Oregon Maritime, temperate, zone 7-8.
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Thanks, Nick. Great info. Best wishes with your orchard.
 
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