GD001
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Location: Middle East, Lebanon

Mulching with wood/manure...

I'm posting this here because I thought it'd be relevant to organic farming in general.
First, I'd like to ask about mulching with wood chips or any carpenter waste. I've never used wood as a mulch so any advice is greatly welcomed. Size of pieces, if sawdust works and also the issue of wood harboring bacteria that sucks the nitrogen out of the soil (or so I've read).

Second, here in Lebanon we can get large bags of sheep/goat (not sure which one) manure that is usually over-wintered and half composted. I wanted to ask how I can incorporate that into my wood mulch.
Should I layer them with moist newspaper? I'm guessing, Compost (manure), newspaper, then wood.

The purpose of it all is to ready the soil for my cover-crop project.
Our large garden has basically been stripped of a lot of the organic material in the soil. And I'm attempting to regenerate the soil health using cover crops.
Also, I'm trying to encourage helpful insects and animals to control the rancid pests we have all over (pincher-bugs, snails, slugs, aphids, while flies and a whole bunch of other unknown pests.
Add to that the diseases (including that horrible soil virus that deforms plant parts and stunts growth).
Although all the issues I just listed should be tackled in separate and more detailed threads, any advice on those too are highly welcomed! :D

For now, I guess mulch and compost should be a start to heal the soil.

Thanks in advance! :D

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rainbowgardener
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Compost is a better start for healing the soil now. Mulch helps too, but in a longer range way -- especially wood mulch, which is slow to break down. For your soil, especially for growing veggies and annuals, better mulch would be greener - grass clippings if you can get them without chemicals on them, pulled weeds, alfalfa hay, etc.

Re the woodchip mulch - I personally don't think sawdust works very well. Too fine, it packs down and forms a hard crust. If your soil is already on the acid side, sawdust can make that worse. The issue about nitrogen is that wood is high carbon, low nitrogen, so it uses up nitrogen in the process of breaking it down. This is a problem is the wood is IN your soil. I don't think it is a very big problem for wood chip mulch sitting loosely on top of the soil. By the time the mulch breaks down enough to be turned under in the soil, I think a lot of that process is done. But still, its part of why a greener mulch would be better. If it can't be something really green, straw, fall leaves, or shredded paper would work.

I don't use manure, can't really answer that, but half-composted goat poo mixed in with wood chips sounds kind of ooky and messy/smelly.
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GD001
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Joined: Tue Feb 07, 2012 12:22 pm
Location: Middle East, Lebanon

Ok, I'll have to see what I can collect (weeds, hay...).
the Goat poo isn't that bad haha But you should see how amazing the plants do when it (eventually) breaks down completely. Great stuff.
As for mixing it with the wood, that doesn't sound good at all. I would have layered them.
The issue with fallen leaves is that most trees here are evergreen, and if not they're not on my property :? The only alternative are dropped pine needles.
and I was worried about the ink on paper. Is it bad for the plants?

One more question, How often should the mulch be turned and incorporated into the soil?

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rainbowgardener
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Ink on newsprint is all soy based and not a problem.

The fall leaves I use are not from my property either, I collect from around the neighborhood. Most people don't care if you pick up their fall leaves. Pine needles don't break down well.

Mostly the only time I turn mulch under is in the spring, getting ready for spring planting. Other than that, I just keep adding on top. You definitely don't want to turn wood chips in to the soil until they are pretty well broken down. Even in the spring, if last year's wood chips in the perennial beds still look like wood chips, I just scrape them out of the way to do planting, then put them back and put more on top.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

GD001
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Posts: 27
Joined: Tue Feb 07, 2012 12:22 pm
Location: Middle East, Lebanon

OK, thanks for the advice! :D
What do you think I should do about the pine needles?
We have a really old tree in the garden -at a high point- so we basically get pine needles EVERYWHERE. Honestly, picking them up everyday is too time consuming. Especially since the next day it'll drop just as many as you picked up :?
Any way of speeding up the decomposition?

EDIT: took a look around the forum. Should I make a separate pile for composting pine needles? and shredding them then adding them bit by bit to the pile? Seems like that would reduce the "overload" on the worms hahaha



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