feedback request on cottonseed hulls?

lifesblessings(6/7)March 13, 2009

Does anyone use cottonseed hulls in their garden? I ran short of home/organic/mulch so I've been using it on some fall planted lilacs and peach trees. My bareroot plants are coming in and I thought I'd use it on them for a little extra insulation in case we get real snow or ice. (Last night the weather man said that March is Oklahoma's highest snow fall. I've been here over 30 years = I would have guessed February). The bags are huge, weighing 45#, but when you open them they are tightly backed and go a long way. (still $8.70 is never as good as free) I've heard 'cottonseed meal' is good for plants. So when they eventually break down it should be good for the soil? Cotton itself (I'm a spinner/weaver) is a 'hair of the seed' fiber filled with oil, and the cotton seed has oil... so they should be a great weather insulation to let those roots really grow during the winter cold. Any input and opinions on using them to protect bareroot starter plants as mulch or other uses?

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I love cotton seed mulch. It is hard to find now. When I asked about it someone told me that the oil companies were buying it up and paying more for it than they can get at the farm store etc. I had a few bags of it left and used it in a lasagne bed. I don't use it on anything but ornamentals. I never use it on vegetables since cotton isn't a food crop they can spray it with whatever they want. ( and I am sure they do)
But as I said, I really like it around other things.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2009 at 1:41PM
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I never thought of the chemicals... I wonder at what timing they would spray cotton? surely before the bols open... there shouldn't be residue on the fibers or seeds... anyone???

    Bookmark   March 13, 2009 at 2:00PM
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Lisa_H OK(7)

I use Back to Earth, which I hear is composted cotton burrs. I like it as mulch.

I bet Dawn can tell you more. :)


    Bookmark   March 13, 2009 at 2:58PM
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Maybe it is OK for mulch. I bought cottenburr compost this year at the big box store (thankfully only 4 bags) and it was awful. It smelled so bad that two days later the neighbors were asking my husband what I had put on the flower bed. I have bought it before and it was OK, but not this year. I think Back to Earth is supposed to be different. I think the cotton grown in the Texas high plains is done differently and not sprayed just before harvest. If I remember correctly, that is the Back to Earth brand. I will see if I can find the article.

Scan down the page and read the one from BTNguy.

Here is a link that might be useful: Compost

    Bookmark   March 13, 2009 at 4:02PM
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Today I bought two bags of Back to Earth composted cotton burrs at TLC. I noticed on the way home that it does have a pretty strong smell, so thought I'd do a search here before I actually use it, to see if there were any comments or problems. I went to the Compost link provided by soonergrandmom (thank you for that link) and read BTNguy's post and then followed his link to the Back to Nature website. There is an explanation on the website about the smell that sometimes occurs, even with their product (I'm posting their explanation of the smell below). It looks like it may have more of a tendency to smell bad this time of year. I don't plan to use it straight, just use it as a soil amendment, so I guess I'll open a bag and use a little and see just how bad the smell is.


Here's the explanation of the smell from the Back to Nature website, and a link to their FAQ section:

Why do some cotton burr/boll composts smell so bad?

We dealt with that complaint for years before we finally found the solution. What we eventually discovered is: If the product is bagged when the moisture content exceeds 35%, aerobes (microbes that require oxygen) die off, and anaerobes (microbes that do not require oxygen) take over. Anaerobes produce a noxious gas which results in the rotten smell. We learned our lesson, and finally figured out a way to control the odor problem. Now our products are bagged only when the moisture content in the compost rows is less than 35%. Then we use a proprietary curing process to ensure our products are the best they can be prior to shipping.

On rare occasions, our products can have a stronger than normal odor. That sometimes occurs in late April or May; the months when we receive the most rainfall. Coincidentally, those are our peak shipping months. So if we happen to run out of warehoused, cured product, we are forced to bag directly off the compost rows, and the result may be a stronger than usual odor, but never the rotten odor of some competitive cotton composts.

Here is a link that might be useful: Back to Nature FAQs

    Bookmark   April 22, 2010 at 3:34PM
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Oh I am SOOO glad that I read this! I am not going to purchase this again. I bought some from Lowes this year and I was wondering why it smelled sooo bad! Thanks so much!

    Bookmark   April 22, 2010 at 8:55PM
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Was it the Back to Earth brand that you bought at Lowe's?


    Bookmark   April 22, 2010 at 11:34PM
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I opened one of the bags of Back to Earth composted cottenseed hulls and I was relieved to find that it smelled just like good soil .... not a trace of a bad odor at all. I have no idea why there seemed to be a peculiar odor coming from the bags when I was bringing them home in the car. I did let the bags sit outside (unopened) overnight before opening one. Anyway, I wanted to set the record straight that the bags I purchased are just fine.


    Bookmark   April 24, 2010 at 9:30PM
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