The Q&A Archives: Use Of Corncobs

Question: I have a large supply of corncobs accumulated. Can the corncobs be used in the garden or flower beds to benefit the soil and/or plants & vegetables growing? If so, is it best to crush the cobs, shred them and mix them in with the soil at time of planting, or just let them decay elsewhere, then apply them to soil at some later time? If they are left to decay, approximately how long does this process take?

Answer: Corn cobs are a good source of organic matter for your soil. If partially decomposed, they would make a good mulch and if composted, they would make a good soil amendment. They could also be dug into the soil in the fall and left in place over the winter prior to planting in the spring. They will break down faster in smaller pieces no matter which way they are used. To compost them or to accelerate the process, some additional nitrogen added to the mix along with enough water to make the material moist yet not soggy would also help, as would making a heap or pile at least three feet to a side (high, across and wide). This is one case where bigger really is better.

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