I am new to the forum and excited to be composting zebra mussel shells. I learned the recipe from Cornell and I am teaching kids in Cleveland how to compost them! They are so excited to be working on my project, and our plants are growing great!
If anyone wants to try the shells in their gardens, I can happily ship them out. I read on a previous thread that sea shells are hard to find in Kansas and other places, so let me know. We have a lot that have washed up on the beaches of Lake Erie, especially where my mom lives.
I am teaching these kids how to compost for fun, or maybe sell the shells to other urban gardeners. Do you have any suggestions or recommendations as I continue to expand my project?
Maria Christine : Note my location, though I am actually less than 1 hour away from the St. Lawrence Seaway, we have seen no sign of this issue YET !
I will look at the Cornell site for information on composting Zebra Mussel shells!
Do I understand that you are feeding the shells to the chickens as a mineral type supplement to increase the value of the chicken do-do ?
Well cleaned oyster shells have been traditionally supplied to domestic flocks of those birds prized for egg production. Coarsely ground oyster shells
are pulverized by passing through the birds 'Crop' and are internally recycled to make the bird eggs hard outer shell
Also the mussel shells would naturally be useful used as 'Grog' to be mixed in with Pottery Clay to reduce the internal rate of shrinkage and crack
formations leading to failure of the Pottery ! Clarification of this traditional use should be not more than a "Search' under Grog away !
Success has a Thousand Fathers , Failure is an Orphan
There is money to be made cleaning mussels off of boats, docks, water intakes, locks etc. The main issue with this exotic species that arrived in the great lakes in ballast water is that they accumulate pollution from the water. Many unwanted substances are destroyed by the composting process. Some, such as heavy metals, persist in the finished product. Zebra mussels have clarified the water in many areas that were formerly murky. The great lakes receive agricultural run off and several major cities dispose of effluent water from sewage treatment into the lakes. The mussels also gobble up phytoplankton that is the major food source for many juvenile fish.
Thanks Dale ... you're right on the money. I have been studying this for about a year and have learned a great deal.
You bring up a point that hasn't been always clear to me. Everyone has a different viewpoint on whether the composted matter will contain anything harmful, once composted. (All the testing labs say no, but if you were me, what particular test should I run, and what can I expect to pay?)
Soil testing is all over the map, and I want to work with someone who is knowledgeable, since I am working with kids on this project.
I've been following Cornell's recipe, and it's mostly zebra shells, chicken manure, and sawdust. But we are having fun experimenting, trying to find more ingredients that would make it more nutrient-rich. We are successfully growing vegetables, and my peppers are 9-inches long!
I'm not a scientist, but I do enjoy trying to connect kids with learning principles they enjoy. Figured you all would have some interesting ideas.
Lead and mercury are usually the biggies in contaminated sea food as fertilizer. Test facilities may be testing for bacteria and viruses. This would make sense if you were eating them. These things are not a long term problem in the soil. Metals are a huge problem.
i've been wondering a similar thing about using the vast algae mats that wash up on the beach in early summer. at first all i was thinking about trying it as a green manure, but then the back of my mind started screaming about the agricultural runoff which is the source of all that algae (not to mention the pollution in the lake itself)
then while i was researching i came across a lot of info about the toxic cyanobacteria which looks like harmless algae but can cause serious poisonings/death if it gets on the skin
life lessons from an opossum: eat anything, dont be afraid to show your teeth and when all else fails lie down and hope your problem goes away