tedln
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I'm finding the use of wood and wood products like sawdust in garden soil to be very interesting. The truckload of sawdust I purchased had supposedly composted for a year and was supposedly ready to amend my garden soil. It wasn't. It still had the appearance of fresh wood. It even smelled like freshly sawed wood with an occasional clump of horse manure in it.

The pile was in excess of four feel tall and it seemed impervious to penetration by moisture. I would sometimes check it after a heavy rain and find the moisture had not penetrated more than one inch into the pile. I had about decided to simply spread the pile over my pasture and let it rot away.

After about ten months of simply sitting in a pile, I noticed the pile had decreased in size by about 30%. I dug into the center of the pile and found that every grain of sawdust had changed from a raw wood color to a grayish brown color and it was all covered with a fuzzy fungi. Micelium had totally penetrated the pile and held the sawdust together in large clumps. No mushrooms were evident on the exterior of the pile, but the fungi were working hard inside the pile.

I am now using the sawdust again as a soil amendment and it seems to be working. My only complaint now is when the sawdust decomposes, it totally disappears. My beds which were amended with it the previous fall decreased in volume by the same volume of sawdust added. If I am going to use organics as amendments, I would prefer they last longer in the soil than the sawdust does. composted chips or even twigs or small branches may work for a longer period of time.

I've thought about using oak leaves but they don't seem to last long when added to the soil. My pasture is covered in a four inch layer of oak leaves which I can easily collect but I have noticed in the past they usually have rotted away by early spring.

Just my observations!

Ted
I simply enjoy gardening!

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applestar
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soil wrote:sounds like a hugerlculture bed a little applestar.
Yep. :D I think I did that right after a flurry of discussion on that topic here. :wink:
(Didn't I say I'm easily influ-- ...er, INSPIRED? :>)

garden5
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Well Ted, I guess that means that they are an excellent microbial food if they disappear that quickly. After, they disappear because of microbes the same way that stuffed peppers disappear because of people......it's food, good food!

I wonder if coarsely shredded bark wouldn't be a good soil amendment since for some reason, I ted to see fungi growing on it more often than hard-wood.
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tedln
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garden5 wrote:Well Ted, I guess that means that they are an excellent microbial food if they disappear that quickly. After, they disappear because of microbes the same way that stuffed peppers disappear because of people......it's food, good food!

I wonder if coarsely shredded bark wouldn't be a good soil amendment since for some reason, I ted to see fungi growing on it more often than hard-wood.
Many people use bark fines as the basis for their sterile soil mixes. Some tree varieties have bark that resists decomposition for years. Other varieties seem to decompose overnight. In general, bark doesn't seem to decompose as quickly as heartwood.

If I understand the process correctly, organics decompose into humis. The humis volume is significantly smaller than the original organic volume. The humis in turn either is or contains Humeric acid which causes the soil, containing minerals in a locked form; to release those minerals in a soluble form for the plants to use. If that is how it works, I am very happy for the sawdust to disappear.

Ted
I simply enjoy gardening!

garden5
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I just checked it out and you seem too be on the right track, Ted. Fulvic and brown and gray humic acids do have a volatilizing effect on compounds in the soil.

What's interesting is that even though sawdust has a very high C:N ratio, it still breaks down rather quickly. I'm wondering if this wouldn't make for a great "brown" addition to a spring/summer compost pile since "browns" are sometimes hard to come by this time of year.

Also, maybe it would be good to amend the garden soil with sawdust in the fall, so it has more time to use the nitrogen and break down before the plants are growing.
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DoubleDogFarm
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I know how you feel, Ted. I'm really believing that no-till is a much better way to go if you garden in beds. My garden is big to the point that I have to walk around in it, which means I compact the soil. Thus, I must cultivate it in order to loosen it up a bit......a vicious circle .
G5,

I don't recall how large your garden is. If compaction, no till and soil biology is a big importance to you, why are we still tilling and walking on the beds? walk the talk

A little off topic and I'm being a EDITED - PLEASE REPORT THIS POST.

Eric

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applestar
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Eric, join us [url=https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=43]here[/url]. You'll see G5's been spending overtime ruminating on the subject (and seems to be ready to take the first step :wink:).

DoubleDogFarm
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Apple,

I'm glad you edited your post. I was thinking you didn't get my point. :wink:

Eric

garden5
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DDF, I've only recently began to look thoroughly into the benefits of gardening in beds instead of in a large patch. I know the concept has been right in front of me for some time, but I always dismissed it because I figured that more dirt means more crops. Well, it looks like I very well may be wrong.

However, we will have to discuss this elsewhere since this thread is starting to get off-topic.
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