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Corn Stalks.. will they  Toplef10Corn Stalks.. will they  1zd3ho10

Hello Guest!
Welcome to the official Square Foot Gardening Forum.
There's lots to learn here by reading as a guest. However, if you become a member (it's free, ad free and spam-free) you'll have access to our large vermiculite databases, our seed exchange spreadsheets, Mel's Mix calculator, and many more members' pictures in the Gallery. Enjoy.

Corn Stalks.. will they  I22gcj10Corn Stalks.. will they  14dhcg10

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Corn Stalks.. will they

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boffer
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Post  rod champion 7/16/2012, 10:31 pm

decompose in a decent amount of time in a compost pile?
Do you guys put them in your piles?
Thanks You,
Rod
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Post  llama momma 7/16/2012, 10:46 pm

Yes you can certainly compost corn stalks and they also provide nice aeration till they break down of course. The corn I grew last year was chopped up enough to fit into a couple of 3 sided wooden pallet compost heaps. Today I turned over the heaps and there is nothing left of the corn. There was close to 64 stalks that went in.
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Post  Triciasgarden 7/16/2012, 10:52 pm

LlamaMama you have good compost piles for the stalks to decompose already. Good job!
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Post  donnainzone5 7/15/2013, 12:34 pm

Is there an easy way to chop up cornstalks? I expect to have quite a few this year and would really like to add them to my compost operation.
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Post  boffer 7/15/2013, 12:42 pm

Don't forget to save some for autumn decorations!

I'm interested in learning an 'easy' way also. In the past, I've tried cutting them up smaller, but it's too much work. Now, I just stack the stalks in a neat pile by themselves, and they breakdown fairly quickly. Then, I add them to the main compost pile.
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Post  southern gardener 7/15/2013, 1:11 pm

donnainzone10 wrote:Is there an easy way to chop up cornstalks?  I expect to have quite a few this year and would really like to add them to my compost operation.

We had an assembly line last year when pulling the corn. Someone pulled the corn, someone brought it to the compost pile, and the person at the pile cut the stalks into about 18" pieces. We had the whole garden done in about 20 min, not too bad. The stalks decomposed nicely, and added "airspace" in the compost pile. Our corn was kinda short tho...so maybe those with taller corn might take a little longer, but it really wasn't that bad. One of our helpers was a 3 year old, so just to show you it was fun and easy Smile
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Post  donnainzone5 7/15/2013, 1:49 pm

What did you use to chop the cornstalks?
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Post  llama momma 7/15/2013, 2:01 pm

When I had about 100 corn stalks last year they chopped up nicely with a shovel.  Got good enough to aim the flying pieces - most landed right into the compost heap. Made a game of it that way.  Oh and it helps to be motivated by thinking of something very annoying like politics. Laughing
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Post  donnainzone5 7/15/2013, 3:50 pm

Round or square shovel?
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Post  bnoles 7/15/2013, 3:58 pm

Lay them out single layer and run over them with a lawn mower a few times, then pitch fork them into the compost pile. Makes short easy work of them.
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Post  llama momma 7/15/2013, 6:11 pm

donnainzone10 wrote:Round or square shovel?

 Round shovel, Donna
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Post  southern gardener 7/15/2013, 6:34 pm

donnainzone10 wrote:What did you use to chop the cornstalks?

Hi Donna: We just used regular hand held "clippers", the kind you trim roses with I guess is the best way to describe them? They cut REALLY easily, the kids loved helping. The stalks were about the consistency of celery, so they cut in pieces quickly and pretty effortlessly.
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Post  donnainzone5 7/15/2013, 6:46 pm

Southern Gardener,

Short- or long-handled? I envision short-handled ones.
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Post  southern gardener 7/15/2013, 7:15 pm

donnainzone10 wrote:Southern Gardener,

Short- or long-handled?  I envision short-handled ones.

Yeppers, the short handled ones. Here is a pic Smile

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Post  donnainzone5 7/15/2013, 7:21 pm

Yep, I have some of those.
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Post  yolos 7/15/2013, 9:52 pm

A tree stump and a machette. Lay the corn stalkes on a stump, whack them with a machette.
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Post  southern gardener 7/15/2013, 11:14 pm

grrrrrrr....we just pulled our entire box of corn out. Only grew about 1'-2' tall, put out tassels and TINY ears. So, we don't even have to cut any of it up; hubby just threw the whole bunch in the compost pile Mad  He was able to carry all the stalks in his arms in one trip Embarassed  . He keeps telling me to just grow in regular dirt, but I want this to work!! I think 4 per square is just too many. It just seems there's not enough nutrition to go around for all those plants in 6" of soil. Seriously wanting to "throw in the towel" with this. sorry for the rant, but getting super frustrated after all this work ugh Sad Sad
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Post  donnainzone5 7/15/2013, 11:19 pm

I have neither a tree stump nor a machete. Interesting image, though!
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Post  donnainzone5 7/15/2013, 11:26 pm

Southern Gardener,

When I lived in Southern California, I sometimes managed to grow corn, four to a square, in 4"-6" of Mel's Mix. Usually it reached three to four feet, but some years there were stalks that made it to between five and five and one-half feet, in a yard that received around three to four hours of direct sunlight during the summer.

I suspect that there may be deficiencies in your Mel's Mix, and I recall that you've had trouble in the past with the bagged product. What did you use this year? Please forgive me if you've already posted this information.
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Post  southern gardener 7/15/2013, 11:55 pm

donnainzone10 wrote:Southern Gardener,

When I lived in Southern California, I sometimes managed to grow corn, four to a square, in 4"-6" of Mel's Mix.  Usually it reached three to four feet, but some years there were stalks that made it to between five and five and one-half feet, in a yard that received around three to four hours of direct sunlight during the summer.

I suspect that there may be deficiencies in your Mel's Mix, and I recall that you've had trouble in the past with the bagged product.  What did you use this year?  Please forgive me if you've already posted this information.

Thank you for your reply. It seems like my mix that is deeper, like 8" plus and not so many plants are doing OK. Those plants are like 8' tall? maybe more. These have only about 1 plant per 3 SF? . One has 7 or 8 ears on it! It's Silver Queen, so a different variety. The kind(s) failing are Kandy Korn and Peaches and Cream. Even my Silver Queen that's closely planted are small.
I have a Brandywine tomato in MM. We've gotten 2 nice tomatoes off of it. I put a sucker from the same plant in "regular" dirt out in our front garden about a month or so ago. I counted 30 tomatoes on it and the plant is 3x the size and beautiful. You are correct in that we had problems with the bagged mix. We ended up taking it again out and to the dump. We made our own Mel's Mix out of our own compost. It has coffee grounds, yard scraps (no pesticides), shredded paper, shredded cardboard, (not much) alpaca manure, kitchen scraps, dried hay, fruits/veggies from garden or stuff we couldn't eat, worm castings, grass clippings, tea bags, egg shells, paper towel rolls, rotted chicken manure, rotted steer manure, fish skeletons, composted wood chunks (not much), that's all I can think of off of the top of my head, but quite a variety. It was well composted, screened and mixed with peat and vermiculite. We are trying different things again, hoping to come up with a winning combo. We see the pics here of the beautiful gardens, but we aren't having the same results overall. Seems like the plants spaced farther apart, or plants with shallower root systems are doing better. Again, sorry for the rant, but ugh Sad 
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Post  donnainzone5 7/16/2013, 11:33 am

Your homemade compost does sound good, so it's difficult to understand what's going wrong. Did you fluff your peat moss? Wet down the MM?

I think you know to do these things, but I simply can't imagine how you could have gone wrong with your diversified homemade compost.

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Post  southern gardener 7/16/2013, 12:46 pm

donnainzone10 wrote:Your homemade compost does sound good, so it's difficult to understand what's going wrong.  Did you fluff your peat moss?  Wet down the MM?

I think you know to do these things, but I simply can't imagine how you could have gone wrong with your diversified homemade compost.  


Yes, we had it mixed well. My sweet hubby loaded up our compost (about a cubic yard) in our trailer, and hauled it to a "soils" place nearby. They unloaded it and mixed it the peat and vermiculite and our compost with a huge tractor, it was really cool. We are very blessed to have the place nearby. He has a HUGE pile of peat and vermiculite already mixed!! They then loaded it back in our trailer with the tractor, then loaded up our beds. We ended up with about 3 yards of material!! The soil "looks" really nice, germinates beautifully. It seems we are just having probs it seems with not enough nutrition to go around?? Yes, we watered heavily to saturate the mix. It was nice and moist from top to bottom. Thank you for your concern Smile
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Post  murarrie25 7/17/2013, 7:49 am

Have you looked at adding zinc for corn  there is a lot of information about zinc deficiency on the internet  if the area is deficient in zinc then any compost would lack zinc.
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Post  southern gardener 7/17/2013, 5:52 pm

Yes, we just added Azomite. According to what I've read (fwiw) it doesn't really help the growth issues, but puts more minerals in the food?? Ty for the reply Smile
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