The Q&A Archives: Excelsior

Question: I would like to use excelsior for mulching on my vegetable garden this year. Will it rob the soil of nitrogen (as sawdust does)? It comes from Mexico and was used as packaging for garden ornaments to protect them against breakage. I thought I'd put down a few layers of newspaper and then top it w/excelsior. Any ideas?

Answer: Although I have never used this material in the garden myself, I would consider it akin to a fine sawdust and prefer to age it mixed with a nitrogen-rich material such as manure prior to using it as mulch. Since you are using it on top of newspaper, however, it will not be in direct contact with the soil and as a result will break down slowly; keep an eye on your plants and be ready to apply an extra bit of nitrogen should they show signs of deficiency.

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