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what to do with chestnut husks?

 
Kelda Miller
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For those who haven't experienced chestnuts husks: yow! They're very spiky, with spikes that don't decompose quickly either and can still maim bare feet the following year.

Under the chestnut in my yard is prime real estate. The path we walk to the garden goes there. My reasons for wanting the husks somewhere else:
1) it's easier for harvesting to see where i've already picked through
2) it doesn't work with bare feet at all
3) i'd like to use that area as a mulched + mushrooms area (it won't interfere with chestnut harvest and will make fallen chestnuts still fairly easy to see)

But, what to do with the buggers? It's kind of overkill to put them anywhere I don't want creatures to get to. Plus they decompose so slowly they're a hassle later.

I guess I could just leave them through the harvest, and then mulch on top later, squishing them out of sight. But not this year.

Any ideas!
Right now they're just going to the municipal yard waste. And it's an overflowing container.
 
Susan Monroe
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Location: Western WA
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Are the husks green and moist or brown and woody?  Are the husks whole, or in halves or pieces?

You might try offering them as stock feed on FreeCycle.

If they're dry, burn them?

Since I've never seen one, I really don't know what I'm talking about, although farmers have used them as stock feed in the past.

Sue
 
Leah Sattler
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could you run them through a chipper?
 
Kelda Miller
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all of the above: some green, some rotting and brown. some in halves some in pieces. I dumped an experimental bucket over into the goat pen to see if they would go for it. Nada. They didn't even muss around with it to find any leftover chestnuts. So I think it's out for an animal feed.

And chipper/shredder, would it take small bits of stuff? Who will be the delegated person with the stick shoving it in there? (just joking. that may work. i've just never seen small stuff go into a shredder, just out.) The husks are more or less palm size.

I may just build a huge compost pile in the way back. It will have to decompose eventually. Moreso if it's in a pile. But from the look of it, and last year's, there'll be prickly bits in it for a long while. (Years)

I was thinking today: what if the chestnut likes to have thorns all around it's base? Like it's the plants way of saying 'don't mess with my topsoil'. I wonder it needs some of the nutrients from the husks. I'm leaving all it's leaves in place. But does it want more?
 
Leah Sattler
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that brings up a good point.. If you remove the "debris" from your garden/lawn then you have to replace it. Otherwise you are just slowly depleting your soil. Plan on leaving them or composting them and eventually return them.
 
Susan Monroe
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How about collecting all the debris from under the chestnut tree, dump it into a hugelkultur pile, plant a tree there, let the stuff rot forever, and then steal bagged leaves from your neighbors (creeping around the night before trash pickup with your cart or hand truck), and put them under the chestnut tree?

And hope you don't get a bunch of bags of spikey chestnut husks!

Sue
 
Leah Sattler
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why make it criminal! people PAY to have others remove leaves from their yard. Its a business oppurtunity! 
 
Susan Monroe
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Location: Western WA
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It was a joke.  I'm going to the next town today to collect leaves (that sounds like a waste of gas, doesn't it?).  They will probably be thrilled.

Sue
 
Leah Sattler
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oh I know you were kidding but it just is a reminder that sometimes people will pay you to take the stuff you want!
 
Kelda Miller
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As you may have heard me say already, I live near a cemetary. Some of my neighbors have already established with the cemetary folks a 'leaf drop-off' area. I'm welcome to take from the pile as much as I want (and I believe the pile will just rejuvanate all the more that we use it). So I think I'll 'resupply nutrients' that way to the chestnut.  And I'm of course leaving the chestnut leaves.

Maybe the hassle of dealing with the husks won't be worth it next year. I'm sure it's making harvest a slower process. Maybe I'll just pile stuff on Top of the husks and that way eliminate the prickly factor.


this year: my harvesting system is in place, and I know where i've covered. so that's one part of the experiment...
 
                                      
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Leah Sattler wrote:
why make it criminal! people PAY to have others remove leaves from their yard. Its a business oppurtunity! 




Ahhh, yes it is, and leaf cleanup is big dollars.
 
Dave Boehnlein
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Location: Orcas Island, WA
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A couple ideas off the top of my head:


  • [li]Sheet mulch over them each year.[/li]
    [li]Make a hot compost pile with them.[/li]
    [li]Try feeding them to different critters (e.g. pigs). I don't think goats like things once they've been on the ground.[/li]
    [li]Wear sandals.  [/li]


  • Dave
     
    Kelda Miller
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    pigs huh? that might be worth a try, a friend of mine raises pigs. i'll get some over to her...
    (the husks are still sitting in a huge pile in the driveway, i guess one could call that some kind of a slow compost....)

    and That's why the goats didn't touch it, they've been on the ground (well and are terribly unpleasant foodstuffs anyway).

    On that note, I pulled tons of good stuff for them last week though, horsetail, runner grasses, and they Totally turned up their noses to it even though i know they usually love that stuff. must've been because i had it all mixed up with soil too. gosh they're picky
     
    Susan Monroe
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    "Gosh they're picky"

    It's like cats.  Cats can suddenly turn up their nose at something for no obvious reason.  These are the same cats that would perfectly happy eating half-rotten food out of garbage cans and mouse guts.

    Sue

     
    Emerson White
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    Location: Alaska
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    Zombie thread!

    I doubt that any animal would be likely to eat the husks, they are a structure that evolved with the aim that it not be eaten. I think that putting the dried husks into a good healthy fire in a burn barrel would be a good step, thorns and spines tend to pop in my experience but in a barrel that doesn't matter as much, then you get any nutrient that isn't carried on the wind to return to your tree and close the cycle.
     
    Fritz Klein
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    I have the same problem. Composting seems not an option as they don't readily break down, and eventually get mixed into soil that I am weeding or planting in, and I still get stung. Burning seems the only good way, but we can't do that here. shredding only leaves them the same, but in zillions of pieces.
     
    Burra Maluca
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    I have one word - hugelkulture!
     
    2016 Permaculture Design Course at Wheaton Labs http://richsoil.com/pdc
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