I've cleared a part of my property and ground up the leaves, weeds, vines,
ivy, etc. with a lawn mower. My intent is to let the stuff decompose over
the winter, thoroughly aerate the area next spring, and plant grass. I've
also got a bunch of branches from trees and bushes I cleared, and was
wondering if I shredded them with a wood chipper and spread them over the
area, would they decompose as well, or would they be too dense?
Also if I bought some worms and spread them, would that help? I live in
Depends on how fine you chop them. The composting process depends on the
surface area of the material. Chopping them finer means they will take a
lot of nitrogen out of the area to compost, but they will decompose
quickly. Chopping them more coarsely means they will not use as much
nitrogen but will take longer to break down.
If they use a lot of nitrogen you will have to add a temporary source
(fertilizer) to support plant growth.
Worms will help aerate the soil and compost mix and will contribute to
the breakdown of the organic material.
If you want to avoid problems with insufficient nitrogen in the cleared
area, remove the ground up material, place it in a pile to compost on
its own. Add the worms there. Keep feeding it (and the worms) with
vegetable scraps from your kitchen. If you remove the grass from your
lawn when you mow, add it to the pile. Turn the pile occasionally. Your
pet worms will love it.
I think the wood chips will decompose, speed depending on the size. You
will probably want overlay with green material as a nitrogen source
(speaking in compost terms) because the wood will wick it right up.
re: worms - I thought I read some where that there aren't any animals
capable of digesting cellulose. Termites do, but technically it's the
bacteria in their gut that render it. I don't know how carpenter insects
or beetles do it.
Some fungi can also digest cellulose. Moisture helps a lot.
I used to use paint sticks to stir my worm bin. After I filled a bin,
I decided to leave it and let decompose. I stuck the stir stick in
there because there was no where else to put it. A month later, half
of the stick that was in the bedding was completely gone. I think it
takes more than just worms. In a very active worm bin, there are lots
of other organisms at work too.
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