hulls Rice Hull CompostUsing rice hulls for mulching material has many long lasting advantages. In heavy clay or adobe soils, or areas that have poor drainage that previously produced low-quality harvests, rice hulls could be the answer. Though they do not add many nutrients since they deteriorate very slowly, they “percolate” the soil by opening moisture channels, and seem to act like thousands of tiny water pipes.Rice hulls are very lightweight and in order to be used satisfactorily as a mulch, a thin layer of dirt must be spread over them, then gently but thoroughly moistened. This way they will hold their position the rest of the season controlling weeds and conserving moisture. The organic fiber content of the rice hulls is about 45% silica. It was the moisture saving claim and the aids in soil aeration that persuaded me to order a load of rice hulls about five years ago.

I raked in about two inches over my home vegetable garden, then thoroughly soaked the hulls with a fine spray. With a pitchfork I poked holes all over, so that as many hulls as possible could go underground.Within weeks my cover crops had grown over the hulls left on top. At this point I spread a very thin layer of pulverized, rotted chicken manure over the top.

The first year after the hulls were spread all over the garden area, I scraped away the hulls in long rows and planted the various vegetables then carefully spread this scraped away soil over the hulls to keep them from blowing away.

In a short while the vegetables grew above the level of the hulls and started acting like wind breaks for them, while the hulls were working to conserve moisture. my vegetable crop that year was better than I had ever had before, but it did not compare to the crop I had the year after that. When all the harvest was in that late summer five years ago, I spread a thin layer of fresh chicken manure free for the asking at a nearby ranch. The next spring I tilled everything in together. The hulls got all mixed into the soil and there they been ever since acting much like earthworm channels providing oxygen to the roots and drainage to the soil. This is great for any ground crop that is susceptible to root rot in areas where drainage is poor.

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