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ID jit
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Easy way to process down Hardwood Bark ???

Am new to most of this and am learning a lot, much faster than I expected. Thanks much for connecting some of the dots for me. Have been reading about good quality compost and it looks like the key ingredient is lignin.

Thinking here is that processed down bark mulch, coffee grounds and compostable kitchen scrapes should get me some pretty good plant food. All I have to do is get it into a form my low maintenance pets (compost piles) want to consume and digest quickly and easily.

I have a decent supply of the ingredients which are not going to be hard to gather. Difficulty is that the lignin I have is contained in firewood-sized chunks of hardwood bark. I know it doesn't break down quickly in my compost piles and I am always hand picking it out and tossing it back into the “active” pile while I am forking over the new “curing” pile. I know I do not want to break up each piece by hand, not beat on it with a hammer or hatchet and spread it all over the place. I also know I need to process it down to a more usable size. I do not own a chipper/shreader, can't borrow one, and am not going to rent one.

Am usually pretty good at figuring things like this out, but not all the time. This is one of this times. First thing that came to mind was a ball mill which is just too much to deal with – would work great but a chipper/shreader would be easier, but neither are accessible nor fabricateable .

Next thing that came to mind was a really big Mortar & Pestle – pouring a big concrete mortar isn't in my future.

That brought the to those sort of paleo corn/rice/grain processor things – rounded over skinny log and a hole in the ground. This would be in my tech range, inside my budget and inside my skill set to fabricate and inside my range of effort and time I am wiling to expel, but I am right back to “No, I am not going to try and pour a big mortar out if high strength concrete.” Also, I don't have generations of daily effort to pound a hole in a rock with a stick.

I thought of a hole lined with round granite stones packed in the white glacial clay (the raw version of the pottery stuff), but a couple 5 gallon buckets of that is maybe a 6 to 8 hour venture, and maybe not so completely legal.

Anyone have ideas?

(Keep in mind I am in New England. The immediate geology is 2” - 8” of top soil and then some fine, sandy bank run gravel with little to no clay/silt in it. “Digging a hole = move the stones and rocks and scrape out the dirt that was in between them and then you hit ledge.)

Thanks much.
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applestar
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Re: Easy way to process down Hardwood Bark ???

...so hugelkultur is out?

:arrow: Subject: Pallet sided high raised bed hugelkultur experiment

If you go that thread, you'll also have access to whole bunch of related discussion links at the bottom of the page. :wink:
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ID jit
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Re: Easy way to process down Hardwood Bark ???

Hugelkultur? (never heard of it)

Build some air permeable walls around a pile of woody stuff in various states of decomposition, covered with “greens”, cap off with some soil and such and put in the plants – is that about how it works?

From what I gathered reading, lignin, fast and easy don't get to be in the same sentence without some negatives. What I would like to accomplish is basically bark/twig/stick dust or crumble to mix in with kitchen scraps run through a food processor, Then mix that soup into my “active” and mulchy compost pile. If I 'get' this. The finer I process the lignin sources down, the faster it will turn into something useful for my plants beside a top-layer mulch.

Hugelkultur: Makes me think I messed up in reverse with my current “active” compost pile:
(This is the pile I out smarted a bunch of worms to work in a bucket for me.)

Put down a 2” layer (4' x 4') of tiger lily, siberian iris leaves/fronds(?) and some garden weeds nstuff on top of where the old pile had been, which I did not scrape clean.

Covered that layer with a random inch or so of active compost.

Stacked in a layer of dry rotted and questionable firewood.

Another random inch of compost.

Repeated and ended up with a 4' square 18”-24” tall

Put my “active” compost pile on top of all of that and just left it there and turn the compost which is above the top layer of wood.

Anyhow...

From what I gathered reading, lignin, fast and easy don't get to be in the same sentence without some negatives. What I would like to accomplish is basically bark/twig/stick dust or crumble to mix in with kitchen scraps run through a food processor, Then mix that soup into my “active” and mulchy compost pile. If I 'get' this. The finer I process the lignin sources down, the faster it will turn into something useful for my plants beside a top-layer mulch.
I don't believe we can resist the things which make no sense - I believe.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Easy way to process down Hardwood Bark ???

Unless you are doing hugelkultur, don't start with firewood sized chunks of wood.

I don't know where you live, but where I am, I can easily pick up plenty of twigs from my backyard, or if I didn't have that, from roadsides. They could go in the compost pile as is. But I do own a small chipper shredder, that grinds up sticks up to nearly an inch in diameter. I use it more for mulch than in the compost pile. The small electric one I have (about like this)

Image

retails for about $125, but you can often find them listed on craigslist for $50 or less. I really recommend it. Big value for the money.

But other than that, plenty of other things can be "browns" in your compost pile. Fall leaves are readily available this time of year. If your own backyard doesn't provide them, drive around the neighborhood and pick up the bags of leaves people put out at the curb for pick up. Before I moved, I did that every year. About a dozen bags would get me most of the way through the year, feeding them into the compost pile as needed to balance and cover the "greens" and using them for mulch. In the summer when last year's fall leaves ran out, I would buy a straw bale from the local tractor-supply or feed store and feed that into the compost pile. Shredded paper works.

It is just silly to be fantasizing weird ways to break down logs when there are so many easily available alternatives.
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ID jit
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Re: Easy way to process down Hardwood Bark ???

Burying the questionable firewood under my pet was more about getting rid of the fire wood. It had dry rot and some had termites or something. I have dug it up once, scraped out the humus and scraped off all the spongy soft stuff to use as browns. Reburied with son fresh greens. Guessing it will take maybe another 2 year to disappear, and I am fine with that.

Am mostly looking at the chucks of bark that come off the fire wood as it dries. I want the lignin. I do not want to buy/own/maintain/store another machine. I could shread up the newspapers et al ... lots of C, but it doesn't really turn into much. Also looking to decrease the fuel load on the floor of the local woods around the house.

Paleo and neolithic tech is something I have played with most of my life, flint napping, cordage, hide tanning, atlatls & darts, forging modern steels in a copy of a 900 AD charcoal fired forge.... goal here is to figure this stuff out quickly so I can get to carving an ash long bow this winter.

Looks like I am going to be digging a hole, lining it with stones and clay and pulverizing the stuff with a stout pole and getting some exersize. After I process everything, I pull the stones out of the hole and put them back and break the seal of the binding material, rebury the rocks that came out of the hole = 0 impact, 0 non local materials, 0 waste to be disposed of. Most paleo and neolithic tech is a lot more effect than most people think.
I don't believe we can resist the things which make no sense - I believe.

toxcrusadr
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Re: Easy way to process down Hardwood Bark ???

Throw it all on the driveway and drive over it for a few days/weeks. You laugh but people do that around here to remove the outer husks from walnuts. Then they collect the hard inner shells to dry and crack later, and shovel up the husks.

I was going to recommend a small electric shredder, much cheaper than gas powered one and takes up less space.

I did a micro sized hugelkultur bed last year. Buried some spongy firewood pieces under a new 3x3 extension of one of the raised beds. This year the sweet potatoes I put in there were HUGE. Hence the term HUGElkultur, haha. It really does work.

Me, I would bury the hard bark or use it for garden paths and find some other browns. Fall leaves, straw, paper, free wood chips from the city or utility tree trimming crew.
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