Soil and Compost forum: Sawdust in compost

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North Central TX (Zone 8a)
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tx_flower_child
Mar 24, 2018 2:06 PM CST
I was eyeballing some bags of compost at a local nursery. All the ingredients listed sounded good until I got to the last one. It said 'sawdust'. I realize that ingredients are supposed to be listed by amount, so the sawdust was the smallest on the list. But why would I want sawdust in compost?

Thanks for advice.

tfc
North Central TX (Zone 8a)
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tx_flower_child
Mar 24, 2018 10:22 PM CST
Never mind. I did a little research and read that sawdust adds carbon to the compost.
Name: Larry
Enterprise, Al. 36330 (Zone 8b)
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Seedfork
Mar 25, 2018 6:32 AM CST
Nothing scientific here on my part, but the sawdust might add a nice texture to the compost.
North Central TX (Zone 8a)
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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tx_flower_child
Mar 25, 2018 12:41 PM CST
Haven't opened the bag yet. It's so heavy that I stopped carrying/dragging it to where it needs to go.

Will keep you posted.
Minnesota (Zone 3b)
RpR
Mar 25, 2018 1:42 PM CST
Sawdust adds bulks and as it absorbs water adds weight.
So it takes less compost to make a 40 pound bag.
Name: Jim
Stroudsburg, PA (Zone 6b)
Greenhouse Region: Pennsylvania
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MoonShadows
Mar 25, 2018 2:29 PM CST
Just want to make sure you know the source of the sawdust. Not all sawdust is created equal.
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North Central TX (Zone 8a)
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tx_flower_child
Mar 25, 2018 2:52 PM CST
I'll take a picture of the list of ingredients when I get back outside

I don't think it's 40lbs. It was the end of the day and I was tired. Plus I was turning green from the pollen falling from my oak trees. Anyway, will check.
Name: Frank Mosher
Nova Scotia, Canada (Zone 6a)
Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Birds Roses Clematis Lilies Peonies
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fwmosher
Mar 25, 2018 5:23 PM CST
While sawdust is listed as the last ingredient, thus supposedly the smallest amount, and I certainly would not return it, and I would use it, I just want to make a point about sawdust in general: It is not a good ingredient to add to any garden. Why? First off, it robs the soil of the all-important Nitrogen. The Nitrogen in your growing medium is automatically used up in breaking down the sawdust first before what is left gets to your plant roots. Secondly, in my personal experience, sawdust attracts all kinds of different "bugs"! In particular, what we used to call when we were young, cutworms, which I noted some years ago, no one else calls them that. They are, full grown, about an inch long, very thin, brown in colour, and move very slowly, like a centipede. They have a hard shell. I have upturned soil just a year ago, that I had put a fair amount of sawdust in, and it was full of all sizes of this insect, curled up, in breeding circles. Cheers!
Name: Frank Mosher
Nova Scotia, Canada (Zone 6a)
Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Birds Roses Clematis Lilies Peonies
Region: Canadian Photo Contest Winner: 2017 Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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fwmosher
Mar 25, 2018 5:41 PM CST
I finally after all these years, learned the correct name of the insect that we used to call "cutworms" as kids and which I referred to in my previous post. Here it is:
Thumb of 2018-03-25/fwmosher/75ec59 a Millipede! And there was another insect, and I forget what we called it, NO I just remembered, ear wigglers, actually Centipedes but it was more reddish and very fast, and I just learned that those were Centipedes! Only ever noticed the Millipedes in my sawdust laden gardens. Cheers!

North Central TX (Zone 8a)
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tx_flower_child
Mar 25, 2018 8:02 PM CST
I know cutworms. Well, maybe not. I also know grubworms. However I don't know if there's a difference. Either way, I don't like 'em!

So anyway, rather than scribbling everything down,
I took a few pictures of the bag. And the bag is 1 cubic ft or 28 liters.


Thumb of 2018-03-26/tx_flower_child/3b7c56
Thumb of 2018-03-26/tx_flower_child/0b7db8
Thumb of 2018-03-26/tx_flower_child/70c586

Name: Christie
43016 (Zone 6b)
Plays in the water.
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cwhitt
Mar 27, 2018 9:08 AM CST
I have read that earthworms like sawdust.
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Name: J.R. Baca
Pueblo West Co. ( High Dessert (Zone 6a)
josebaca
May 3, 2018 4:10 PM CST
tx-flower-child;
Hey, how's it going? I work at a maintenance yard that has all the shops needed to keep a school district going, and among them is the carpenter shop where they have a dust collector that empties into an outside bin. When I see that it is running I'll check to see what they worked on that day, if it is natural wood, I'll take it home, if it's ply or composite, I'll leave it. I use the sawdust to mix with the fresh manure I get from my neighbors, to cut back on the smell and add a little 'workability' to it.Most companies that deal in compost or manures will do this, and since it has 'soaked' in the manure, nitrogen robbing is kept at a minimum. IMO the sawdust also adds a little texture to the soil as well. That being said, I would not recommend you use straight sawdust in your garden, unless ( if you'll please SINCERELY excuse me ) you pee on it. A fellow grower does this with his sawdust and claims that he is actually loading urea nitrogen into it. Shrug! I checked with a few people that I consider experts and they all say that is what should be done if you intend to use sawdust in the garden, though 'charging' it with liquid fertilizer would also work. Go figure!

Hope this helps,
J.R.
Minnesota (Zone 3b)
RpR
May 3, 2018 9:37 PM CST
If you add saw dust you should add nitrogen as saw dust is carbon loaded.
Urine is rich in Nitrogen.
North Central TX (Zone 8a)
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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tx_flower_child
May 4, 2018 5:47 PM CST
Plants seem to be happy so I guess all is well. For now.
Name: Jay
Nederland, Texas (Zone 9a)
Region: Texas Region: Gulf Coast Charter ATP Member I helped beta test the first seed swap I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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Horntoad
May 5, 2018 9:43 PM CST
I wouldn't use fresh sawdust in a garden but, I don't see a problem with the sawdust in your compost. First it is only a small part of the total volume and second, it is composted so it should have very little if any nitrogen robbing properties.
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