Using sawdust in garden? : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

Next year I willn't be able to devote as much time to my garden as in the past so I am looking at mulching with sawdust. However I have some questions I need answered before doing this.

Has anyone used sawdust as a veggie garden mulch? If so, did you add lime to counteract the acidic nature of the sawdust? What problems did you have with insects or other pests? Any problems with using a drip irrigation system with sawdust mulch?

Thank you.

-- Rich (, December 13, 1999


From what I,ve read I understand that sawdust or other wood products take nitrogen from the soil in order to decompose, tho one decomposed it makes a good soil ammendment, for water retention and loosening up a heavy soil. If you use sawdust ad nitrogen to offset what the N will use. Chicken manure is high in N.

-- john leake (, December 13, 1999.

The organic gardening show on KRLD radio in Dallas always tells you not to use uncomposted sawdust, as it removes so much nitrogen from the soil that it kills the plants. If you get into their web site they have some information available about different gardening things, some are free, some are not.

-- A. C. Green (, December 13, 1999.

Opps. Sorry. It isn't KRLD, it is WBAP radio. KRLD has a gardening show also, but it isn't organic. In fact, it's about as chemical laden as it gets. WBAP has Howard Garrett, the Doctor of Dirt, who is from my hometown, Pittsburg, Texas, although I don't know him. I think he's younger than me and we went to school at different times.

-- A. C. Green (, December 13, 1999.

don't use sawdust from plywood or any treated lumber, the chemicals will leach into your soil. I also was told not to use a lot of oak sawdust it can poison people and animals if inhaled to much

-- stan (, December 14, 1999.

New sawdust or has it been used for something? It might make a big difference. I'll try to make a long story short...I used to use pine dust as bedding for mixed poultry and piled it really deep. Occasionaly I put down a layer of fresh weeds and whole grains as a bedtime/inclement weather snack for them. I continued to deep bed them and as fall rolled around I threw in a hefty layer of leaves because they seemed to like to eat them and I thought the extra air pockets would make a good floor insulation. Continued pine through spring. Shoveled a years worth of sawdust/weed/leaf/maure bedding into an old garden. Within weeks I had more (volunteers) growing there than in my carefully manicured compost filled garden. Figures...

-- William (, December 15, 1999.

Be careful to Not use sawdust from Walnut or Butternut trees as the Juglans in these trees are toxic to many other plants.

-- Bob Crane (, December 18, 1999.

I use locally available sawdust generated by the locals production of lumber. It has a carbon/nitrogen ratio of about 100. Optimum is about 30. For that reason I purchase nitrogen fertilizer and mix it well to speed the composting. If I am NOT going to garden that year I will pile it on a foot deep and plow it in (mouldboard plow followed by an offset disk). After a couple of seasons like that the soil is to die for. Adding lime depends on your soils pH, also consider other amendments depending on a soil test.

The key is to 1. avoid additives like fungicides used by many lumber mills. 2. correct the carbon/nitrogen ratio with fertilizer. I usually use urea because it is high potency and long acting, but if you seek certified organic status stick with cottonseed meal or other similar fetilizer. 3. Do a soil test to learn what your soil needs in addition to more organic matter.

Works for me.

-- Nick (, December 18, 1999.

Some sawdust is acidic (oak for eg) but otherwise it makes fine mulch. Some of the posts in answer to your question refer to composting which is different from mulching.

-- Cornelius A. Van Milligen (, December 19, 1999.

I have had great success using sawdust as mulch, the nitrogen robbing only happens on the surface if you just pile it on top, and that just helps keep the weeds down. Do be careful about the walnut sawdust, I get my stuff from a sawmill that sorts that out so they can sell to horse barns for bedding. I have also cycled the stuff through my goat barn first, which includes wonderful time-release fertilizer pellets

-- Connie Christoffer (, February 16, 2000.

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