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Compost from pine pellets vs. straw pellets

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  • Compost from pine pellets vs. straw pellets

    I've recently switched from pelleted pine bedding to a pelleted straw bedding. (Streufex) I know the C:N ratio is quite a bit different--the pine is like 1:400 and the straw is 1:80. I'm not very sure what this means from a strictly practical sense.

    Has anybody composted both and can compare for me how they did? Or anyone compost the pelleted straw and can tell me what they though about it?

    I've been using my pelleted pine compost for over a year and have really liked it. I've used it as both an amendment that I've dug into the soil as well as just spreading over the top like a mulch. They plants have been dang happy so far.

  • #2
    Straw makes much better compost than wood. It has to do with the acidity. Pine is very acid and will change the soil PH. Straw is much more neutral. I know the mushroom mines in Pennsylvania contract with race tracks for their straw bedding for mushroom growing; they will not even consider wood shavings or pellets.

    Where are you finding Streufex down South? I'd love to find a source.
    Last edited by vineyridge; Dec. 7, 2012, 10:15 PM.
    "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
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    • Original Poster

      Originally posted by vineyridge View Post
      Where are you finding Streufex down South? I'd love to find a source.
      I have a local farm supply store that will ship it in if I buy it by the pallet. I'm a little more than half way through my first pallet and like it enough as a bedding to have ordered the second.

      I know in general that straw supposedly makes better compost I'm just having a hard time figuring out why and what it will mean for my gardens.


      • #4
        do a pH test on the compost and your garden. Chances are it won't to a heck of a lot. Much of the US is on the sour side anyhow - that's where Azaleas thrive. But if you like the pine compost, I am guessing straw won't make a difference.


        • #5
          Do you like it better as bedding than the pine pellets?


          • #6
            FWIW one BO switched to strufex just for compost when the horse will allow, its much better for fields which is where it goes. They have 10+15 acers to spread it out over, since our soil tends to be acid pine sawdust makes it worse. Price of strufex is going up so maybe lime is cheaper now, any comments?
            “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” Peter Drucker


            • Original Poster

              Originally posted by winter View Post
              Do you like it better as bedding than the pine pellets?

              It works in the stall about the same as pine pellets, but it results in significantly less dust in the barn. It is easier to add to the stall because you don't mix it with water, just dump the bag in.

              My horses are up 8-12 hours during the day and I go through an average of 1 1/2 bags per stall per week. After the initial set up, the messy horses get 2 bags a week, the neat poopers get 1 bag a week, thats about $35 a week for bedding for 4 horses. Right now that is about 25% more than what I was paying for pine--basically using and paying the same amount per bag, but the bags are 30lbs instead of 40lbs. Between the dust improvement and what I expect is compost improvement it's well worth it to me. (Not to mention how low labor pellets are to begin with! I clean stalls, feed and turnout 4 horse in less than 20 minutes.)

              I've bought almost no organic matter or mulch for my gardens (roses, perennials and veggies) and beds around the house since I started composting almost 2 years ago. Producing and using my own quality compost is a big money saver in the garden, so I don't mind paying extra to get better quality.

              With the pine I'm not sure there is enough manure (greens/Ns) to break down all the pine dust (brown/Cs) and I'm ending up with something that is not the classic dark brown crumbly compost. Although if stays hot for months and reduces significantly in size, so it IS composting. It's working fine as mulch if not real pretty--by the front walk I'll put a little store bought mulch over it to make it look nicer.

              When I did a soil test on it last spring it didn't seem very balanced in the pH department--but the pH changes as it composts so maybe it doesn't matter. I'll do the same test next spring on the new stuff to compare.