I have a large pile of hardwood limbs (sugar maple, black oak, cherry, ash) I inherited when I purchase my property. I think the limbs are left over fall down from Hurricane Katrina. The stack is in the wooded area close to the house. It is about 4x6x 30 feet long laid somewhat like cord wood, stacked on top of each other. The woman who sold me the place said her sons used it as a hunting barrier/blind. The limbs are dry, no bark and not rotting. I started piling some the tons of leaves I have, on top of the branches after adding lime. I am going to add goat semi-composted straw and manure on top off the leaves. The final thin layer will be bone meal, leaf mold and dirt on the top.
I intend to try to put mushroom spore in it (oyster, wine cap) to help with decomposition of the limbs, as well as produce yummy mushrooms.
Anyone have any suggestion to help get this project of the ground? I am not sure if it will work but I am excited to see what happens.
I have several other pile of limbs piled on the lot, just not as big as this one. The property is on the side of a hill facing east by east west. I live in New York very close to the Vermont border.
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Joan, I guess you don't want to use it for firewood? Sounds like a good supply.
However you decide to decompose it, getting wood to rot means keeping it wet, and keeping nitrogen in the water you use to keep it wet. The wood has to absorb the nitrogen, and nitrogen dissolves in water. That is what breaks down wood, which is also carbon. So nitrogen/carbon is what you are trying to create. Fresh manure is good for nitrogen, but take care yourself getting it on shoes and hands and eyeballs. It splashes around more easily than you'd imagine.
If you want to plant on the mound that it is decomposing in, the best way is to dig a pit about 18" deep and cover the bottom of the pit with the limbs, then fill in with manure and whatever else you've got, and soil. That's a hugelkultur pit. It might seem like a lot of work, but it's a one-time thing, and it will last for years. Then you build layers of soil amendments on top of the hugel pit, and that's very easy to do, then plant right in the layers of straw, leaves, manure, mowed grass, etc.
But if digging a pit isn't good, you'll need tons of soil over it, with lots of manure in that soil, to keep it wet, keep it covered. Rodents love to get into mounds of dirt, and when they find the air pockets in a pile, they have the perfect house. They practically removed the soil from my mounds by digging in them day and night. That's why the pits are a sure thing. I also found that the thick mulch I like to use to plant in kept sliding off the mounds.
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