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Wood Pellets as mulch?  RSS feed

 
                                            
Posts: 12
Location: Tacoma, WA - Zone 7b
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Has anyone given much thought to using wood stove wood pellets as a mulching material instead of wood chips?  Any drawbacks? 

Thanks for your feed back!

-Erick

P.S.  My soil is moraine—mostly sand and small rocks.  Great drainage, but very little organic matter.  My goal is to create top soil.
 
Matthew Fallon
Posts: 308
Location: long island, ny Z-7a
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i can see 2 ,withought giving it much thought.
super cost prohibitive, ton of embodied energy.  theyre expensive and take a lot to make them.
not sustainable(or maybe theres pellet machines that dont use electric/gas?)

pellets are just compressed sawdust, once it gets wet and spreads open into sawdust again, it'd kinda form a semi impervious mat... i know when i take sawdust from my wood-shop and just spread it out thickly on the ground,it forms a kind of shell and water gets repelled . its great if i mix it in though,that makes it spongy.

where i live, fresh wood chips can be gotten delivered FREE from tree services/cutter.
your reaility might be different.

if you already have free unneeded pellets, mixing them into the soil i guess is ok?. though i guess it'd do teh same thing woodchips/hugels do,which is suck up all the nitrogen.  Definitely wait for more opinions than mine
 
Al Loria
Posts: 395
Location: New York
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If you are using hardwood pellets you cannot be absolutely sure if there is black walnut in them or not.  The allelopathic properties of certain woods like black walnut may not be helpful for your plants.

Also they are a needlessly expensive way to mulch, as Tribalwind said.  They do breakdown quickly as I have used them to slow down a nitrogen hot compost in my tumbler.

A ruined wet bag of softwood pellets might be good to compost instead of throwing it away, but there are plenty of other better substitutes for mulch.

I have a pellet stove and occasionally use the ash on the garden in small quantities.  This year we will be using it more as fuel oil is too expensive and a lot less perfect way to heat a home.  One day we'll get a woodstove.
 
                    
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Agree, cost is probably the biggest factor. If there is an urban/suburban tree service any where near you, you can get a lot more wood for a lot less.

tribalwind wrote:
not sustainable(or maybe theres pellet machines that dont use electric/gas?)


I toured the largest wood pellet factory in the US last year - they burn the bark from pine trees to heat the kilns that dry the wood to be chipped.  I believe (but am not 100% sure) that most of the other energy used to manufacture comes from the bark. Petroleum is needed for transport, which is a concern. That pellet plant is audited by several independent groups for being carbon neutral, and most of what they produce goes to European power plants to reduce coal consumption (existing coal burning plants don't need retrofitting to burn a coal/sawdust mix).

tribalwind wrote:
pellets are just compressed sawdust, once it gets wet and spreads open into sawdust again, it'd kinda form a semi impervious mat...


We use wood pellets for cat litter, and that goes onto the land when it gets rank. The sawdust actually makes a mulch that is very spongy and well drained.


 
                                            
Posts: 12
Location: Tacoma, WA - Zone 7b
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Thanks for all of the feedback!  I’ve always been hesitant to getting wood from our suburban tree services.  Roundup is commonly used all over our community—we’re one of the few yards with “weeds” and “jungles”.  Is this something I should worry about, or am I being too cautious?

The price of pellets (at $200 per ton) seems a better deal than buying animal bedding wood chips.  And, a much better deal than purchasing nut shells.  I’ve been using straw and that has really encouraged my slug population.  I am going to try to do a couple of ducks this year, but the city codes make it challenging. 

And wood pellets for cats?  Thanks a great idea!

Thanks!
 
Al Loria
Posts: 395
Location: New York
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eric.kimmet wrote:
And wood pellets for cats?  Thanks a great idea!


They sell bagged wood pellets for kitty litter at twice the price at the pet food store, so using your own is a good deal.  They are usually pine pellets.   They used to sell alfalfa pellets for kitty litter, and those were a bargain for use in the garden.  Can't find them anymore.

Sweet Peet is a good mulch made out of used horse bedding with tannins added.  Tried it this year and it breaks down quickly.  They compost it for 6 weeks before selling.  Might be available near you.
 
                    
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Putting uncomposted wood in direct contact with soil will rob nutrients from the soil until the wood is completely broken down, and that can take awhile.  It's kind of impossible to prevent wood-based mulches from mixing down into the soil, it just happens as you water and walk around and weed.....

I think using the pellets as part of a composting system would be great.  The possible nasties in the pellets would be at least partly broken down, and they would add a lot of carbon to the pile.  Then use the finished compost in your garden. 

I would not use even composted cat feces in a people food garden.  There are scary things that can be in cat poop that you really do not want to risk ingesting. 
 
                      
Posts: 76
Location: Austin,TX
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Met a lady who ran a cat rescue shelter. She did worm bin kitty litter boxes.
Said it works great and no changing litter. Just swap boxes after awhile then harvest the worms after they've finished.
Think she kept adding more shredded newspaper as needed.

Couldn't get my sister to try it for her 6 house cats...she'll handle cat shit but not worms.

Also I get free delivered wood chips from the local tree trimmer company.
All I want as otherwise they pay to get rid of it. Crazy.
 
                    
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Ok, that would be a way to safely compost cat feces.  That's so cool!  The smell of most cat shelters makes people want to run the other direction.....
 
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