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Old 12/04/06, 06:46 AM
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Tobacco stalks/waste as mulch

I really need some info on this. What are the environmental implications of using cultivated ground up tobacco stalks/waste as mulch? Do the pesticides used on it during the growing season carry over and affect the soil...the vegetables...and ultimately, me? Should I be handling this ground up waste, or breathing its dust? I know it will make great mulch as far as organic matter is concerned, but I need to know the after effects. Anyone out there with info on this? Thank you!!!
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Old 12/04/06, 08:31 AM
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Location: N. E. TX
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I haven't researched tobacco, but it is my understanding if you compost anything that was once living, it will be ok to use in your garden.

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Old 12/04/06, 10:33 AM
Join Date: May 2002
Location: South Central Wisconsin
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"Tobacco stems or tobacco dust should not be used in concentrated amounts as mulch. This organic matter may eliminate insects, but it may also kill off beneficial insects, earthworms and soil organisms that convert organic matter into humus. Tobacco materials, mixed with other organic matter in moderation, may be used in mulching or in sheet composting without this danger."

That tells you that the tobacco itself is the pesticide that you'd have to worry about if you used a thick layer of only that product. Mix it with other stuff and it's fine.

It's very high in potash, around 10%. If you are growing something that needs a lot of potassium, that becomes great fertilizer. The nitrogen and phosphorus contents are also high.

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Old 12/04/06, 08:49 PM
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Location: South Louisiana
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Originally Posted by Sherrie S
Do the pesticides used on it during the growing season carry over and affect the soil...the vegetables...and ultimately, me?
Yes. The pesticides don't go away at the end of the growing season. The residuals stay around. How long? Don't really know. You can probably compost it for 2-3 years and most of it should be gone. Like someone above said, it's the beneficial insects that get killed that I don't like.
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Old 12/05/06, 03:15 PM
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Tobacco is a natural pesticide so even if it doesn't have chemical pesticides added, it would probably still kill off many beneficial insects.
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Old 12/05/06, 10:25 PM
Join Date: May 2002
Location: South Central Wisconsin
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Personally, I'd use it if available. In the US, use of pesticides for tobacco is hardly needed since there are so few enemies. The beneficial insects are primarily flying type which would not be affected by the nicotine. I would mix it at least 50-50 with finished compost or well-rotted manure. Nearly everything that we plant seems to have at least one root maggot enemy or subject to being chewed off by cutworms. Beneficial bacteria isn't going to be harmed by it as they can handle tobacco or tomato with equal effectiveness. If an earthworm doesn't like it, that tough since they probably don't belong there anyway. Nasty as one may think of tobacco scrap in gardens, it IS a natural organic pesticide!

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