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ReptileAddiction
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Will this tie up nitrogen?

So I needed some compost and don't have any home made stuff atm. So I went to Home Depot and bought some. To me it looks a lot more like mulch than compost so I am wondering if it will tie up too much nitrogen if I use it in a potting soil mix as a main ingredient. What do you guys think? Keep in mind that this is a fairly close shot and the pieces look bigger than they are. If it helps for reference that is my finger in the top left corner.

BTW I posted this on someone else thread in the vegetable section and got 1 answer but I would like some more people's opinions before I go using it so I figured it would get more attention if I gave it it's own thread.

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cynthia_h
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Re: Will this tie up nitrogen?

ReptileAddiction wrote:BTW I posted this on someone else thread in the vegetable section and got 1 answer but I would like some more people's opinions before I go using it so I figured it would get more attention if I gave it it's own thread.


I can't find the other posting right now in the Vegetable section, but your lack of responses is why the forum so strongly discourages duplicate postings (and esp. those that appear under already established threads): it's too easy to miss a new request for information. :(

Personally, I would consider pieces as big as my index finger--much less the index finger of a man (I believe you're a man?)--to be mulch rather than compost. If I had purchased this...stuff...hoping to dig it in as compost, I'd (1) be upset at having been misled about the product, (2) be looking for a refund or exchange, and (3) failing #2, leave it on the surface as a mulch. Therefore ==> no nitrogen tie-up. :)

The small particles will be dragged down into the soil by earthworms and rain or applied water, so the plants will benefit from the compost-sized particles. The large chunks will help keep water from evaporating from the surface, i.e., they'll act like a mulch. I'm just sorry you paid compost prices for mulch.

Is there an independent nursery nearby that could sell you honest-to-goodness compost?

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ReptileAddiction
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Re: Will this tie up nitrogen?

We were more discussing this in somebody else thread so I posted a picture of mine. Yes I am a man. :)

Anyway it is extremely out of proportion there is nothing near as big as my fingers (do you mean width or length?) They are certainly no pieces as long as my fingers and the widest are about 1/4 my fingers. Does that change the answer? If I need to there is a great independent nursery near me that I frequent that I could buy some from. I was just at HD so I bought it there.

I will take a better picture with a quarter for reference.

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ReptileAddiction
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Re: Will this tie up nitrogen?

Here is a picture with a quarter for reference. I feel like this captures the real size a lot better. I am not going to deal with this again I am just gonna make my own from now on.

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applestar
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Re: Will this tie up nitrogen?

What size container? Screening it may get you the smaller better composted stuff, but I would keep the larger pieces if using in a large container for varied size aggregate and drainage. Would probably put this more towards the bottom half and add extra alfalfa meal/nitrogen source, and use somewhat finer material in the upper half.

It might also look more compost-like if moistened to compost level. But I don't use chipped/shredded wood in my compost piles so I don't know what they should look like when composted. Other people may find yours more familiar-looking and could tell you how well these are composted.

My home made compost is full of large sticks and branches that gets tossed back in the pile or screened out with a wire fence if using in containers but are added to the garden beds when crumbly enough to break by slight finger pressure or by mild stomping.

But the main difference with premium commercial compost seems to be that this material was not screened very finely. There is this idea that compost should look like black crumbly/fluffy "soil" or "chocolate cake".

Good news is that you can still use this as mulch or to add microbial diversity to your compost pile and use it when more finished.
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ReptileAddiction
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Re: Will this tie up nitrogen?

I want to use it to fill earthboxes. So I don't know how much it matters how much nitrogen the soil has because it is more of just a rooting material, correct?

Jacobus
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Re: Will this tie up nitrogen?

I have always wondered how something can tie up nitrogen from the soil. Would anyone care to share this process with let's say fresh wood chips in a chemically sound way? Thanks in advance!

toxcrusadr
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Re: Will this tie up nitrogen?

Reptile, that may work fine for containers since container media is supposed to be coarse. Just watch how the plants do and feed as necessary.

Jacobus: I'll give it a shot. The process of decomposition involves microbes using cellulose (high carbon material) as food to make more microbes. In that process they need nitrogen in order to make protein for cell growth (all amino acids contain nitrogen). They will pull it from wherever they can get it. If the material doesn't have enough - i.e. too 'brown' - they will pull it from the surrounding soil, if buried. If on the surface - i.e. mulch - they can pull N from the air, but that is a slow process, which is why browns left to themselves in a pile or as mulch will decompose very slowly.

Another way of saying it is that, like microbes, we can't survive just eating carbs; we need some protein too.
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Re: Will this tie up nitrogen?

All things being equal, I'd rather eat extra garlic to ward off zombies, than wonder if wood products will steal nitrogen from soil.

No wait! garlic is supposed to ward off vampires!

Plant some garlics next to the wood chips just to be safe. ;)
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