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Composting mill woodchips - is it possible?  RSS feed

 
Annie Hope
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We are trying to make a Jean Pain structure from wood chips from the mill - i.e. only the inner wood of logs, not arbourist chips (that contain the small twigs and leaves too). We layered it with long grass cuttings to be a starter, but have found that it got hot for a week or two, but is not retaining the heat longer-term, and the wood chips themselves are not getting hot. Are we trying to do the impossible? Will mill wood chips ever compost, or do you need to do the slow work of mulching your own arbourist chips? Can't easily get them for free or money in our area, but mill chips are readily available cheaply, as it sawdust.

Annie
 
Troy Rhodes
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Yes, they will compost.

How big was your pile?


What would you estimate your carbon to nitrogen ratio to be?


Finest regards,

 
Dillon Nichols
pollinator
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Location: Victoria BC
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As Troy says, they compost, but you'll need a lot of nitrogen rich stuff to get the ratio right.

I've read that the C:N ratio for sawmill waste, ie bark included, is around 170:1. For just sawdust, I've seen varying numbers, from 200-750:1!

Grass is in the 10-25:1 range; so is cow manure.

If your target is 25:1, you can see you'd need a substantial amount of nitrogen rich material to effectively hot-compost woodchips.
 
Troy Rhodes
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Urine makes for an excellent compost activator for piles that are short on nitrogen.

It is sometimes referred to as Liquid Gold...


 
Bryant RedHawk
garden master
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Annie, this is possible but it will take a lot of nitrogen inputs and some time.

I would recommend layering such as; wood chip base, green layer twice as thick as base, wood chip layer same as base. repeat till as high as you want it.

If you can get manure, spent coffee grounds, grass and other greenery, you can blend these together for the green layers.
Urine, as mentioned is also very good for getting a pile of wood chips heating well.

Spent coffee grounds can be used in a blend, or just added as a layer or even just sprinkled on top and left to work their way down.
Manure teas are also a good way to get nitrogen and other nutrients into a pile of wood chips.
Don't forget to add any fungi you find or have on hand, they will do their job and help any plants you decide to add grow nicely.
 
steve bossie
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Location: Northern Maine (zone 3b-4a)
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buy a bag of oyster sawdust spawn. mix it in your sawdust . cover w/ a 2-3in. layer of straw . keep it moist. the mycelium will compost your chips very quickly and you will get mushrooms to eat as a bonus! if you have conifer sawdust, use phoenix oysters. for hardwood the white, blue and yellows will do. if its in a sunny location, make a leanto out of a tarp for shade. if no shade the my celium will still compost for you but won't fruit. good luck!
 
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