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Re: Sawdust

At 09:05 PM 2/23/97 -0700, you wrote:
>Here's a new one for me.  My husband and I have generated a large
>amount of sawdust working on the remodeling project.  Is there a garden
>use for it?  Can it be used in the compost pile?  I hate to throw it
>away.  It really seems like it ought to be good for something.
>Dana Brown, Lubbock, Texas  Zone 7
>Where we are 3,241 ft above sea level, with an average rainfall of
>of rain a year.  Our average wind speed is 12.5 mph and we have an
>of 164 days of clear weather, 96 of which dip below freezing.
Sawdust works wonderfully on garden paths, where it composts into rich soil
in about a year. I've used it on hiking trails, near the entrances where it
gets muddiest, to soak up moisture. It can be worked into a compost heap
also, but needs to be worked in thinly so it doesn't clump up. If you have a
slow cooking heap, or if you physically turn it often it will add good
nutrients. But it is not suitable for direct application to beds. Nothing
happens for a long time, and it can attract beetles if spread thickly. I
once used it to keep vegetation down around bee hives, and the beetles ate
the leg bottoms off my hive stands. 
I haven't tried this, but here's an idea: because wood decomposes slowly,
you could combine it with manure that is too hot to apply directly to the
garden, like horse or chicken manure (use the dried and well-weathered stuff
in either case). That would speed breakdown of both ingredients and should
make a very rich and beneficial compost. 
Thanks for your idea. You may have given me a thought on how to retard the
erosion of my hillside iris beds.
James Brooks
Jonesborough, TN

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