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Question about a possible mulch  RSS feed

 
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I am helping someone raise a litter of puppies. One of the things she uses in their indoor sleeping quarters is end rolls from newspaper stock (so no ink on the paper) as a layer on the floor for the puppies to pee and poop on. Each day she rolls the nightly used paper in a large garbage bag to be thrown away. I have been thinking about how to put this carbon/nitrogen rich material to good use. I do not have room on my small property to compost it. However, it happens to be that our Murray Cypress evergreens are showing some general slight yellowing on their branches which I am assuming is due to them needing nitrogen. Since the puppy papers have absorbed so much urine, I thought perhaps to make the paper/urine/poop combination a bit smaller and using it as mulch under the trees so they get the nitrogen they are seeking (assuming that is what is causing the slight discoloration). In the process, too, the trees would get other nutrients from the poop slowly released into the soil. My question, however, is whether the poop might be too much without it being composted first? The general ratio is probably 10:1 of paper to poop with 10 being the paper, and, as I mentioned, all of it is urine soaked. My thought also was to maybe give the whole thing a dip in a water bath to dilute the urine a bit. The trees are about 3 1/2 years old and range from 8 - 15 feet tall.
I would appreciate thoughts/advice on the whole idea.
 
master pollinator
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Hi Annie.

I would compost anything animal-related. That way, the nutrient resources are already hosting the beneficial soil bacteria you want to encourage in the soil when you add them as amendments.

I would pose a different question: what is the pH of your soil?

One of the issues with trees is that trying to diagnose and treat them is like waiting for an Entmoot to wrap up (or get started?). They take a very long time to do anything, and by the time they get around to telling you that something is wrong, it may well be too late to do anything.

So by all means mulch. By all means compost the puppy litter into the amazing soil amendment it could be. But if you are interested in saving the trees, I would get a soil test done and figure out if there's anything wildly off spec there. If so, I would adjust as necessary, and then mulch with wood chips. I would find, if I could, mushrooms growing near other healthy-looking Murray Cypress trees in the area, make a slurry of said mushrooms, and pour said slurry over the wood chip mulch.

I would also make a fungal-heavy compost extract, and I would probably add spent coffee grounds to the wood chips for good measure.

I think your puppy litter processing and tree health projects might be separate issues.

-CK
 
Annie Collins
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Thank you for your input and advice, Chris. Okay, so none of the puppy waste materials as mulch for the trees.
As far as the soil around the trees, I did not have much of a concern about the quality since the trees grew from 18 inch baby trees to up to 15 foot adults in just 3.5 years and have been looking quite happy in all that time and I only gave them lawn clippings and leaves as mulch. It is only in the last couple of months that I am seeing the very slight yellowing. Your advice about adding wood chips and the mushroom slurry rings very right and true for them. I will try to see if I can find some mushrooms around Leyland Cypresses in the area since the Murray ones seem to be not very well known and very few people seem to have them. Being that the Leyland is a very close relative, I am sure the mushrooms from around those would be fine. Thank you, I really appreciate it, as do the trees!
 
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I'd use it.  Because of all the carbon in the paper, it will neutralize some of that hot nitrogen and tie it up while the paper slowly breaks down.  I don't think it would burn your plants or hurt your trees.  I wouldn't use it on veggies or in a garden unless I'd hot composted it for a month or so.  You want to be careful with poop around veggies, but around trees, it sounds like a great solution.

If it were me, I'd throw the paper out on the lawn and mow it up with a lawnmower.  That would shred the paper and bind it with the green grass clippings.  Then you could turn it with your regular compost or you could just use it as a mulch (although some of that paper would be prone to blow around if it dries up).  I can think of about 20 places in my food forest where I would put that mulch down.  I wouldn't want to put it anywhere where the chicken tractor normally goes (I don't want the girls scratching at and eating puppy poop), but there are all sorts of places that need that extra carbon and nitrogen.

Perhaps the best way to use it would be at the bottom of a brush pile.  If you had new trees that you wanted to mulch heavily, spread a thick layer of the shredded puppy paper/grass clippings around the base of a tree (8 inches?  more?) and then cover it with branches, spent tomato and potato vines, garden and orchard prunings . . . and effectively bury it with a foot of woody biomass.  I often create a "donut" of biomass around my newer trees, particularly laying it down heavy on the south facing (hot sunny) side.  Even a foot of puppy paper mulch would quickly break down to 3 inches in a month or two if you regularly put some water on it.

Never turn down free carbon, particularly if it's been supercharged with free nitrogen.
 
Annie Collins
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So, basically two very different opinions. I may just turn this into a little experiment and do each on different trees and see what happens. Thank you, both, for your inputs.
 
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Dog poop is not something you want to use without composting, it can contain many pathogens and those bad bacteria can infiltrate your plants which means they will end up in your food.

It is best to compost any carnivore dung prior to using it in a garden or even a lawn.
The ruminants manure is also best for the garden when composted but for different reasons, this type of manure can grow many beneficial microbes when composted and these are the good guys we want in our soil.

Carnivores eat meat and meat byproducts, this can lead to listeria infections and other really nasty bacteria, not exactly what you would want in your plants.

Grass grazers manures are rich in fiber and gut bacteria that process fibers, these are not so bad but this manure is also "Hot" just like chicken manure it can burn the tender feeder roots of your plants and that can stunt growth or even kill the plant.
For both types of dung it is best to give a buffering prior to using it as an amendment in gardens.

Redhawk
 
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