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Can You Compost Black Walnut Hulls?

11/19/2008 12:00:00 AM

Tags: compost, walnuts

Can you compost black walnut hulls?  

The mention of black walnut trees makes many gardeners groan, because all of the plants parts, from leaf to root tip, contain a substance called juglone that causes severe stunting of many plants, including tomato. In fall, black walnut hulls become a car-bashing, foot-bruising problem, too. After you harvest the nuts, you're left with that pile of tarry hulls. Is it really safe to compost them? 

Thanks to on-farm research done by Chris Chmiel in Athens, Ohio, the answer is yes. Looking at all the wasted hulls from black walnut processors in his area, Chmiel  launched into a three-year study that showed that a year of composting turned walnut hulls into a soil amendment with some surprising properties – such as an alkaline pH instead of an acidic one. 

Best known for championing the culture of native paw-paw trees, Chris Chmiel grows paw-paws, goats, and makes compost at Integration Acres in Ohio.

— Barbara Pleasant, contributing editor and author of The Complete Compost Gardening Guide



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