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Using pet poop to accelerate the decomposition of tree stumps.  RSS feed

 
Dale Hodgins
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Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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I get many calls from people looking to remove tree stumps. Many envision the process involving a gas guzzling behemoth that grinds the stump.

 Instead of bringing in an expensive grinder, we usually cut them flush with my cordless electric chainsaw and then I do many plunge cuts below grade. Usually,  I remove a chunk of wood  that is roughly an inverted pyramid.

 I instruct my customers to put their dog and cat poop in that hole and then to cover it  with a small amount of soil and dolomite lime. This greatly accelerates the decomposition of tree stumps.

 I wonder Anne, if there's some alteration you would make to my method,  to make the stumps disappear faster.

 For me this is all about the tree stumps and not the pet poop,  but I'm happy to make both disappear at the same time.

 Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
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Rose Seemann
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Location: Aurora, Colorado
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Oh my gosh, Dale - that's the most interesting use of pet poop I've come across! I'm assuming the ammonia/salts in the carnivore poop and lime eat away at the tough fibers and leaves degraded matter that can be consumed by soil organisms. This is a brilliant use of materials at hand! I have nothing further to suggest since you're already making as many plunge cuts as possible. How long does it take to make stumps disintegrate?
 
Rose Seemann
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This is a p.s. I just talked to my composting pro and he suggests sprinkling a tablespoon of sugar to the lime / dog/cat poo per medium stump. (No, he's not Mary Poppins.) He thinks the sugar will energize the microbes when they go after the degraded fiber.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Thanks Anne. I started doing this at my parents place when I was about 15. You'll notice when visiting old barns, that stone and concrete are used to keep wooden posts well above the wet manure. A post can rot away in a year if kept saturated in warm pig piss.
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Fruit woods and maple take under 5 years. Rot resistant evergreens like cedar and fir take longer, but it's still much faster than if nothing is done.

When I first bought my place, big Douglas fir stumps became my latrine. I'd use one for a short time and then switch to another. Those ones rotted much faster than the other stumps on the property.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Rose Seemann wrote:This is a p.s. I just talked to my composting pro and he suggests sprinkling a tablespoon of sugar to the lime / dog/cat poo per medium stump. (No, he's not Mary Poppins.) He thinks the sugar will energize the microbes when they go after the degraded fiber.


I've used over ripe fruit, in the hope of feeding the microbes. Water is also important. We have dry summers. A stump that is kept wet and saturated in poo, during the warmest part of the year, will dissappear very fast.

The ultimate stump remover, would be a thick layer of all of the stuff previously mentioned, overlaid with a compost heap that is kept moist all year.
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I'm going to do a test of two fresh stumps, the next time I drop trees at the farm. One will see no special attention. The other will get the works, including a plastic cover during the winter deluge. I've considered doing a pet cemetery. I could offer tree burial. This sort of tree burial will smell better than those where bodies are placed in the canopy. The neighbours might take issue with that! 😈
 
steve bossie
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Location: Northern Maine (zone 3b-4a)
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could add oyster mushroom mycelium in the cracks and cover w/ cardboard. will fruit in 6mo. a little over a year later the top will be broken down w/ the roots still sending out mushrooms ! oyster mushrooms are very aggressive wood eaters!
 
Alice Tagloff
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Location: Newfoundland
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If a stump is fresh, Epsom salt.
Just bore 1 inch holes about 2 or 3 inches from the outside of the stump, every 3 inches or so, as deep as you can manage.
Pack the holes full with Epsom salt and then pour water into it to let the salt seep down, not to much, just enough to wet it, then cover it with plastic/bucket to keep the rain off it.
It could take a couple of months depending on the size, to kill the living wood, then it will start to rot. So you might have to go back and keep topping up the salt every 3 weeks, etc.

Depending on the type tree, the stump could try to regenerate by sending up new shoots at the stump or along the roots, etc. I've seen logged wood stumps that are clearly still alive, still producing sap, sending up fresh shoots to regrow, etc, two years after the original tree was cut down. So making sure the stump and roots actually die in order to -get- the rot started, that's the trick. Epsom salt on a fresh stump could kill the wood left behind and cut the time before rotting between an entire season to a year.

Once the wood is dead, then the rotting starts. You can help it along by packing the holes full of a high nitrogen fertilizer/material(urine will probably help with that), and adding a little around the stump and any visible roots as well.
 
Marco Banks
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Bacterial decomposition is good. Fungal decomposition is better. If you can inoculate a stump with mushroom spawn, it will take a year, but once the fungal network is established, it will break down much faster than it will from bacteria.

If you wish to just go with normal bacterial decomposition, as you would with a compost pile, then peeing on it or packing the holes with some other nitrogen rich substance (poop has been mentioned) is the way to go. Fungal composition doesn't need heavy N.
 
steve bossie
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Location: Northern Maine (zone 3b-4a)
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i second the oyster mushroom method but doesn't work with conifer stumps unless you use phoenix oyster mycelium. regular oysters don't like conifers. cedar will have to be done by bacteria as no fungus i know of will eat cedar.
 
Have you seen Paul's rant on CFLs?
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