[permaculture] Red Cedar and Edible Home Gardens - is it safe? RE: Quick Permaculture Question

Harold Waldock haroldw at alternatives.com
Tue Mar 4 14:26:33 EST 2003

Red Cedar and Edible Home Gardens - is it safe? How can I use it?

Red Cedar is a good resource.  Red cedar can be used
	as insecticide with chickens with cedar part of the bedding material,
	a potent oil can be got from the leaves that is a general biocide that some
people use on plants to kill bugs much diluted.
	another easier way to get a pesticide is to boil the leaves and use the
	Red Cedar is a strong plant based herbicide especially when growing.
Allopathic.  Lots of things die under red cedars - useful for pathways.
	I've heard some suggestions or fear that it is poisonous to humans to eat
from plants close to red cedar although I have not seen documented
poisonings from cedar. Fresh water used to be delivered via cedar pipe in
the past (also at the same time by lead) I don't believe it - nothing that I
know in the plant world can do that.
	I've heard of ground water and surface water being poisoned by red cedar
from huge cedar lumber mill waste heaps.  It is actually a forestry
management problem.
	As to pathways, Red cedar sawdust would last several years 2-3 inhibiting
plant growth.  Cedar chips will last much longer than sawdust. Sawdust will
break down. I would expect after 3 years on the coast the effect would be
	People claim that cedar is "acidic" as a way to describe its plant growth
reduction abilities.  The effect of the wood is the same no matter what the
acid level i.e. the pH is. The wood has several effects 1) it has mildly
poisonous compounds 2)wood that breaks down slowly will consume available
nitrogen making it difficult for other tender plants to get started.  3)
Wood will also mildly buffer the soil at an pH level of under 6.0 but over
about 5.0 (I'm guessing here) as will any decomposition like a compost will
(except a few special plants poplar  and cottonwood - but I have not double
checked this) We can get lower pH (4.0) easily here on the coast with our
granitic  mountain sides.
	I bet most blueberries would not suffer much for having cedar sawdust
	Raspberries may be fairly tolerant as well.

> Hi everyone,
> I hope you don¹t mind.. I got your email addresses from the Vancouver
> Permaculture Network website. I have just a quick question for the
> Permaculture People..Does anyone have any experience with using
> Western Red
> Cedar sawdust for paths in an annual garden..is it too toxic?..I would not
> use it in the soil, but is it safe to use for paths...it is quite fresh..I
> have a huge supply of it here on Bowen Island..should I let it
> weather a bit
> to mellow it out?
> If someone could take a minute to answer me back..I would really
> appreciate
> it..
> Thanks in advance


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