How to put sugar cane mulch in a compost bin | + Benefits

Put sugar cane mulch in a compost bin by placing it on top of food scraps to deter ants and flies. Mix sugar cane mulch in your compost bin using a fork or compost stirrer and the sugar cane will absorb extra water. Sugar cane mulch will be broken down quickly by bacteria and worms in your compost bin when mixed in with other ingredients such as fall leaves, coffee grounds and food scraps.

Sugar cane mulch ready for garden beds, worm farms and compost

Sugar cane mulch is high in carbon and still has some sugar in it which will attract good bacteria. Sugar cane mulch is a brown material so it can make up to 50% of the compost. I would also add another brown material such as fall leaves to add a variety of nutrients to your compost mix.

Important tip: Sugar cane mulch can become airborne when it is dry so it is a great idea to spray it with water before you use it. Sugar cane mulch is usually sold in compressed bags, so open the top carefully and spray in some water with your hose. You can also wear a face mask to add extra protection.

Why sugar cane mulch is good for soil

Sugar cane mulch is great for soil, especially if it has been broken down even further in your compost. The fine shredded sugar cane will break down quickly, forming a soil like substance called humus when broken down with vegetable scraps.

If you use sugar cane as a mulch it will break down over 2-6 months and can be dug into the soil. Because it breaks down quickly, it is a great mulch for the top of vegetable beds and strawberry patches. You can dig it in when you are ready to replant your patch. I find that I need to replace sugar cane mulch 3-4 times per year.

How to add sugar cane mulch to your worm farm

Worms love to eat sugar cane mulch and the bacteria that forms on the surface. Bacteria will break down sugar cane mulch at the same time as the worms. Sugar cane mulch makes a fantastic bedding for worms. Layer 1-2 inches on the bottom of your worm farm to add extra air and drainage.

Sugar cane mulch added to the top of my worm farm to help absorb extra moisture from recent rain

Use sugar cane mulch to fix wet compost

Sugar cane mulch is a fantastic fix for wet compost. If you have too many green materials, especially vegetable scraps this can add a lot of water to your mix. Adding sugar cane mulch to your compost is a great way to solve this problem.

Just add the mulch on top and mix through until you see the moisture start to disappear. You can add up to 50% sugar cane mulch to your compost and it will be great.

One of the ways I am composting, in the middle of the banana tree (with sugar cane added on top).

Sugar cane is also a great addition if you have had a lot of rain and your compost has become very wet. Add the sugar cane mulch and dig it through with a fork or compost stirrer. If you leave the pile for 2-3 months it should be well on its way to becoming a rich soil addition for garden beds. Once it looks dark and looks like soil, mix it through your flower or vegetable garden beds.

Will sugar cane mulch attract worms to your compost?

Adding sugar cane to your compost can attract worms. This organic matter is quick to break down so will attract good bacteria and fungi which will start this process. The worms will climb through your ground soil into your compost bin if it is on the ground. The worms will eat both the sugar cane mulch and the bacteria and fungi breaking it down.

Worms are a fantastic help to your compost. They add air holes to your compost as they dig through to break down the organic matter. This helps your compost to break down quicker. The worms produce worm castings which is a material that looks like soil and contains many beneficial nutrients that your plants will love.

Will sugar cane mulch help my compost to break down quicker?

Sugar cane mulch is an ingredient that breaks down fast. It is a brown carbon material, so if you use this in your compost it will be one of the fastest materials to break down. If you mix through 50% sugar cane mulch 25% dry fall leaves and 25% green materials like fruit and vegetable scraps you can produce compost in 3-6 months.

Where do I buy sugar cane mulch for my compost?

I buy sugar cane mulch from a local hardware store and it comes in compressed bags. The thin, plastic packaging can be recycled at my local supermarket. I use this bag to collect all soft plastics and return them all in one go.

A new bag of sugar cane mulch for my garden

I have even seen sugar cane mulch sold at Aldi during spring and fall. Sugar cane mulch is an affordable mulch but will break down quickly so will need to be replaced. If you are using sugar cane mulch on the top of your garden, make sure you water it in. Apply it 2-3 inches thick so that it keeps in the moisture and weighs itself down. This will help to reduce the amount that can blow away.

Another great tip is to apply a thin layer of compost or aged cow manure underneath your sugar cane mulch. As sugar cane breaks down, it will absorb a small amount of nitrogen which can be replaced by the compost or cow manure.

Sugar cane mulch around my new star jasmine

Sugar Cane Mulch FAQ’s

Does sugar cane mulch stop weeds?

Sugar cane mulch will help to stop weeds if you put it on thick enough. Place a 2-3 inch layer on your garden beds to help to stop the weeds from growing through. This will stop the weed seeds from getting light which can prevent their growth. You may find that any thin areas of mulch may still let weeds grow through however they will be easy to pull out.

Just apply some more mulch to these areas every few months to keep it thick. After around 3-6 months, the sugar cane will be completely broken down and can be dug through and new mulch added. For a longer lasting mulch use a pine bark mulch, particularly on flower beds or under citrus trees.

How thick should sugar cane mulch be?

If you are laying sugar cane mulch on top of garden beds to stop weeds, make sure it is at least 2-3 inches thick. This will stop the weeds from growing but still let the rain get through to your plants.

Can I put sugar cane mulch over weeds?

If you have small weeds in your garden you can just put sugar cane mulch over the top. Stopping the weeds from getting light will prevent them from growing. A great way to make sur they can’t grow through is to layer newspaper down on the soil first, 2-3 layers thick and then to add the sugar cane mulch on top.

If you have weed with lots of seeds or that are bigger than 2-3 inches, I would pull them out first. You can then apply the newspaper and sugar cane mulch to the top which will stop them from growing back. After a few months you will find that you need to repeat this process but overtime the weeds will eventually stop growing through.

Does sugar cane mulch contain nitrogen?

Sugar cane mulch contains nitrogen. As it breaks down in your compost the nitrogen will create a nitrogen rich mix to add to your garden.

Is sugar cane mulch safe for dogs?

I have been placing sugar cane mulch in areas that my dog is in frequently and it hasn’t had any effect on him at all. He doesn’t eat the mulch and hasn’t had any reaction to the mulch. From my experience sugar cane is a safe mulch to use in your garden if you have a dog. If your dog does have a reaction, remove it immediately


My old dog Cooper lives happily around my sugar cane-mulched garden

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