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A book I'm reading on creating hotbeds recommends mixing "short litter" with the fresh manure as the base of the beds. I've also seen websites recommending using grass cuttings or a good short litter as mulch. What materials are short litter in these contexts and is there any preparation required to make them into short litter?

  • which book would that be? – kevinsky May 30 '14 at 11:17
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    Never heard of it, but since they cite grass cuttings as a good 'short litter' I imagine it refers to the speed with which nitrogen is released and breakdown takes place - the short refers to the time this takes. Manure takes 1-2 years, grass cuttings a few weeks at most. – Bamboo May 30 '14 at 12:13
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    kevinsky - It's backyard winter gardening by Caleb Warnock. Bamboo - That makes sense. If it breaks down more quickly than manure it would start releasing heat earlier and then I suppose as the heat from that breakdown is dying off the manure breakdown would be starting to ramp up to take its place. – otn May 30 '14 at 21:54
  • @otn - yep, that's what I was thinking... – Bamboo May 31 '14 at 12:48
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In the context in this book, short litter is a carbonaceous composting material used to slow the heating of the manure in hotbeds. This would include shredded leaves, cut straw, wood chips, old grass clippings, etc.. It can also mean animal bedding mucked out before it it becomes very soiled, especially for chickens.

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  • so slowing this heating means...there isn't a big burst but allows enough heat each hour for winter growth? – stormy Jun 1 '14 at 3:14
  • @stormy Yes, some plants don't need so much heat as others, and short litter is kind of a temp control. – J. Musser Jun 1 '14 at 5:00

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