Question: I was told by a landscaping company that the fronds from Mexican fan palms cannot be chipped and recycled into mulch because they are too alkaline. This was news to me! Your opinion regarding that palms-too-alkaline-for-mulch theory would be appreciated.
I don’t know why they are giving that information on palm fronds. We do not chip and recycle them at the orchard because they decompose so slowly.
Some palms have some very impressive sharp thorns that could impale a tennis shoe or sandal easily. We don’t use mesquite for the same reason. Otherwise, we would use them for mulching but probably not for composting due to their slow breakdown.
Whenever plants decompose, they tend to acidify the soil or make the soil less alkaline. If you can chip them small enough, they would be fine to chip, mulch and compost. We don’t do it for the above reasons.
Bob Morris is an associate professor with the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-5555.