Walnut shell bedding revisited:compost question

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SusanH
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Walnut shell bedding revisited:compost question

Post by SusanH » Sun Jun 28, 2020 1:45 am

You guys must be tired of hearing me rave about walnut shell bedding. I am on year six and happier than ever.
The two Main advantages are: 1. my coop never smells and 2. (related) it stays dry as a bone. For years! After four years, I decided I should change out the bedding “just because”, and to check if anything weird was happening on the bottom or something, but no. It was totally dry and odourless all the way.

Some of you were wary about using it in compost, given that nothing grows within several metres of a black walnut tree. Someone (@baronrenfrew ) pointed out that only black walnut has the herbicidal chemical. But since I don’t know what kind of walnut shells they grind up to make this, I put it in my compost and used it on my Vegs to find out - with fine results.

HOWEVER, this Compost was with the small amounts of walnut shell that went into the compost clinging to poop. It disappeared into the lovely mixed (kitchen scraps and chicken poop mostly) compost, not a large amount. The time I cleaned out the whole coop to replace the bedding, I put everything in a barrel and left it two years. So I go to use it this year, and find the whole barrel is exactly as it was two years ago, that is, bone dry. It did not decompose. I ended up sifting it, so I have a barrel of ground walnut shell, and another barrel of desiccated chicken and duck manure. I will be using the manure as fertilizer. I will experiment with using the walnut shell to loosen up my hard clay soil. I will see if it works as a pathway medium so I can save on mulch. I would not put a large quantity into compost, and I am afraid to put too much of it in the veg garden in case it sucks up all the moisture!

Meanwhile, I had bought three more bags with the intent to change the bedding again, but what I ended up doing was sifting all the manure out and putting the used walnut shell back in after scrubbing down the coop. Its still dry and odourless.

For those new to the group, Princess Auto sells 50 lb bags of ground walnut shell for blasting applications. People use it to clean their guns, and I’ve read that it is good for cleaning up wet greasy spills. (They don’t specify duck poop....)
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labradors
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Re: Walnut shell bedding revisited:compost question

Post by labradors » Sun Jun 28, 2020 6:38 am

Thanks for the great review! It sounds really excellent for bedding, but not so great for compost . It might work really well in containers, mixed in with some peat moss...……..

Linda
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Ontario Chick
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Re: Walnut shell bedding revisited:compost question

Post by Ontario Chick » Sun Jun 28, 2020 9:01 am

Just a point on that barrel storage :)
If it didn't have contact with soil and wasn't wetted it wouldn't have been able to decompose, even if it wanted to ;)
I would love to know if it would actually compost if it was layered with enough other compost to balance the nitrogen ratio.

The fact that it stayed dry is pretty amazing and sure sounds like the perfect poultry bedding.
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SusanH
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Re: Walnut shell bedding revisited:compost question

Post by SusanH » Sun Jun 28, 2020 7:52 pm

Hi OC you are right of course!
I really only care about it as bedding. I tried to answer someone’s question about whether it was safe to put into compost. In the past I have put used pine bedding into compost to use on plants, so the question was, how about this stuff? So the answer is, for me, yes, in smaller quantities, added with other organic matter, it composts fine.

Some people put their used bedding directly on theIr vegetable beds. My preference with walnut is to sift out the manure and re-use the bedding. I have no burning desire to use it for anything except bedding for as long as it lasts. But I am as curious as you are about the what ifs. I an wondering if it would help loosen clay, for example. Am about to try mixing It with the clay and compost in my Shrub planting holes.

I did kind of think it would decompose after two years mixed with manure, but you are right, it would need more ingredients and moisture. Next experiment! Thanks!
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