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Great balls of burning mulch! April 11, 2013

Posted by ourfriendben in gardening, homesteading.
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Yowie kazowie! Our friend Ben and Silence Dogood were visiting a friend on Tuesday when her neighbor stopped by to relate a horror story. She and her husband had just put mulch down around the deck on their mobile home. Then they’d gone to work. Then someone had been driving by, seen flames coming up from the mulch and setting their deck on fire and melting it, and called 911. Fortunately, the fire company was able to douse the flames before they spread to the home itself.

Normally, gardeners—and especially organic gardeners—regard mulch as a godsend, preserving moisture in the soil, suppressing weeds, adding organic matter to the soil as it breaks down. What could have happened to turn good mulch bad?

Our friend Ben and Silence speculated that perhaps the mulch contained moisture and was exposed to hot temperatures while still in its plastic bag, so it started composting, a breakdown process that generates heat. Confined in the bag, with nowhere for the heat to go, perhaps it built up and then exploded into flame once the mulch was finally laid down.

But research on Google seems to say that a too-thick layer of mulch combined with dryness and wind can start the mulch blazing, and that dark wood chips are most likely to catch fire. Their remedy is simple: Hose down the mulch regularly to make sure it stays moist and doesn’t dry out.

Wow, there must be nothing like the feeling of trying to do something good for your property and ending up with a fire. Here at Hawk’s Haven, we use compost produced on our own property rather than wood chips as a mulch, and we’ve seen wonderful results in terms of soil fertility and plant prosperity. And not so much as a plume of smoke. We recommend it.

Comments»

1. quarteracrehome - April 11, 2013

Crazy and good to know since I just ordered a ton of wood chips!

Yow! Keep them watered and don’t pile them right up against the house!


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