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Conifer chippings

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Post by Hairyloon on 29th April 2010, 9:05 am

I've been adjusting some conifers (leyland type) for some friends, and now the garden is knee deep in chirpings.
What is the best way to hasten the rate of decomposition so they end up as decent compost?
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Post by Compostwoman on 29th April 2010, 9:08 am

Hmm

They are not great in compost, they take ages to decompose ...and also contain various growth suppressing chemicals

would be better off used as a mulch on (eg ) a path or such like, tbh...

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Post by Hairyloon on 29th April 2010, 9:44 am

It can't be that bad. Leyland is the staple of tree surgeons in this country so any of their chip piles must contain a fair proportion of it, and I've found that to become wonderful compost.
They do tend to have enough to make a hot heap which may help.
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Post by Compostwoman on 29th April 2010, 10:24 am

Mixed in with other wood chippings yes..but not mixed in with other compostable materials, which is what I thought you meant.

A dedicated shredding pile makes wonderful compost...it just takes a long time.. wee on it to accelerate the process.

cupressuss would be fine, but as I said, better mixed in with other tree shreddings.

I have a dedicated ( well 4) wood chipping bins...I use it in the hen runs and from the bottom of the bin get lovely "clean" (ie weed free) compost for seed planting. I mix it in with leaf mould ( from the bins next door )


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Post by Mike on 29th April 2010, 9:35 pm

Obtaining the right organisms off the bat might speed up the process. Look for a rotting softwood log and harvest the fungi. Either spores from the fruiting stage or chunks with live mycillium. Bury those in your heap of chips. The reason it often takes such a long time is the delay in the right organisms managing to arrive.

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Post by Guest on 30th April 2010, 5:45 pm

Don't forget the moisture content Hairyone. If it is kept damp it will greatly increase the rotting process.

ps I have a question for you in "i agree with Nick..." :whistle1:

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Post by Compostwoman on 30th April 2010, 6:50 pm

Mike wrote:Obtaining the right organisms off the bat might speed up the process. Look for a rotting softwood log and harvest the fungi. Either spores from the fruiting stage or chunks with live mycillium. Bury those in your heap of chips. The reason it often takes such a long time is the delay in the right organisms managing to arrive.

Yes, I leave a good few shovels of old wood compost in my bins to inoculate the new stuff

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Post by Hairyloon on 5th May 2010, 2:25 am

Would it perhaps be worth culturing a big vat of inoculate?
There are a hell of a lot of conifer chippings out there... and more made every day.
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Post by Chilli-head on 22nd June 2010, 2:35 pm

I scrounged a trailer load of conifer shreddings from the local tree surgeon to put on my allotment paths, as CW suggests. Strangely enough he seemed in quite a rush to deliver it ..

Anyway, it has been sitting in a heap for less than a week, and I made a start at spreading it out yesterday because the heap was so hot I I began to wonder if it might catch fire. With all the heat and steam coming off it it was a bit like having a sauna ... So much for it taking ages to compost !
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Post by Hairyloon on 22nd June 2010, 7:39 pm

If anyone wants some, I'll be producing a big heap in SE London next week.
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Post by Compostwoman on 22nd June 2010, 8:09 pm

All compost heaps, if properly constructed, will become very hot in the first few days as the thermophile bacteria get cracking. it isn't an indicator of the time taken to produce a usable end result

Wood chipping heaps take longer to compost down to usable, is all I said. This time of year I would expect to be using compost from a more conventional mixture in perhaps 12 weeks? Wood chips alone will take far longer to get to be usable compost. Probably would expect it to take getting on for a year...

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Post by Dandelion on 22nd June 2010, 8:52 pm

CW, would you recommend composting wood chips on their own or mixed in with other stuff? I clear all the woodchips out from the chicken run every so often, and have been putting them in the general compost heaps, but am wondering if it would be less work (having to seive them out repeatedly because they won't break down) and more efficient to put them in their own container?

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Post by Compostwoman on 22nd June 2010, 10:38 pm

I would put them in their own container tbh. , if you have space. D.

Add some human high nitrogen activator ( aka urine!) and leave it. The mix of chicken poo (high N) and wood chips ( high C) will make lovely compost ...eventually! You should see the brandling worms I have in my bins of this stuff!

I have found if I mix the chicken poo and Aubiose (which is what I use inside the houses, along with some straw) in with the rest of the compost-able stuff, I see uncomposted Aubiose in amongst the finished compost...so I now compost the poo/Aubiose separately and then add some of this into the general mix , judiciously, when it had already partially composted down.

That way I get the benefit but it all is finished at the same rate.

Hope this helps?

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Post by Hairyloon on 23rd June 2010, 1:19 am

Compostwoman wrote:Wood chips alone will take far longer to get to be usable compost. Probably would expect it to take getting on for a year...
Unless you have a really big heap, and mix it with some magic stuff.
There is at least one UK company that produces compost from wood waste, and it takes weeks, not months.

Afraid I don't know exactly how 'tis done though.
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Post by Compostwoman on 23rd June 2010, 9:20 am

*I* do know how they do it and size, as always with compost, is the key.

But I suspect people on here do not have tons and tons and tons of the stuff (soft or hardwood shreddings/chippings) to pile up into windrows, turn regularly with a tractor and front loader /JCB, and bung it in a giant rotary sieve mixer, to accelerate the process.

Which is how the commercial firms do it.

Oh and the firms don't make growing medium just from wood waste, it has a high percentage of green waste (from Household Waste Sites ) mixed in, which will also speed up the composting process considerably - see my post above about this.

All I can do is say what *I* have experienced in my composting activities, in a semi domestic setting, with woodchip. If you know differently, lets hear about it.

Details would be good, if you have them.

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Post by Hairyloon on 23rd June 2010, 9:28 am

Compostwoman wrote:Oh and the firms don't make growing medium just from wood waste, it has a high percentage of green waste (from Household Waste Sites ) mixed in...
The one I looked at didn't. All sawmill residue I think.
Details would be good, if you have them.
I think, as you say, it is a question of size: only a big one will satisfy.
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Post by Compostwoman on 23rd June 2010, 9:39 am

The only growing medium I am aware of, sold as "compost" is Melcourt ( I think that is the name?) composted bark product.

AFAIAA, all the others have a mix of HWS green waste and stuff from the wood skip ( so yes, old chipboard, work tops, painted wood etc...) as well as more conventional wood waste.

As I said, if you know differently, some details would be useful.

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Post by Hairyloon on 23rd June 2010, 10:10 am

Compostwoman wrote:As I said, if you know differently, some details would be useful.
Sorry. Think the company was A. W. Jenkinson. I might have that wrong, but I see the lorries quite frequently so I'll confirm that when I do.

The only detail I recall was that he started out an impressively short time ago collecting waste from his local mill with a tractor and trailer.
Now he has a big fleet of Artic's collecting from all over the country.
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Post by Chilli-head on 23rd June 2010, 10:28 am

Ahh. My compost almost always needs/gets a year before use, quite possibly because of the large proportion of shredded conifer/shrubs that ends up in there. One of my lotty heaps now has layers of shredded conifer, waste compostable packaging and a lot of comfrey in it - hope it makes something useful, at least I'm not in a hurry.

It did occur to me last night whist moving some more of it that although the green parts of the conifer is decaying quickly, the woodier bits of the shreddings might be left behind and take much longer to compost.
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Post by Compostwoman on 23rd June 2010, 11:13 am

it is worth, if you have space, having a separate pile for woody shreddings/chippings, they can compost down at their own rate and you can always all partially decomposed woody stuff to the compost bins/heaps as needed.

I have bins totally dedicated to shreddings which I use ( from the bottom) to add to my working bins. I also use the shreddings (well chippings, actually) in the hen run.

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Post by Hairyloon on 24th June 2010, 12:43 am

Compostwoman wrote:it is worth, if you have space, having a separate pile for woody shreddings/chippings...
Or use them as mulch.
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Post by Compostwoman on 24th June 2010, 6:13 pm

I said that on page 1, in response to your original post.

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Post by Hairyloon on 24th June 2010, 11:15 pm

Compostwoman wrote:I said that on page 1, in response to your original post.
You were so right that I thought I'd say it again.
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Post by Compostwoman on 24th June 2010, 11:17 pm


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Post by Hairyloon on 4th July 2010, 1:31 pm

But won't the acidity cause problems for what you be mulching around?
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