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Greener Thumb
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Wood chips and tilling and Nitrogen . . . .

After 2 years of waiting, I finally got a delivery from this summer:


I mulched everything I could find, including my corn patch:


The corn was very happy, and grew 7'-8' tall, with very little weed pressure:


Well, if some is good, more must be better, right? So I got another delivery from If I just pace it off and guesstimate, I probably have about 10 cu yds of chips right here:


Quality is good, texture is good, and it was steaming this morning, but it's definitely raw, uncomposted chips:



Lots of eucalyptus, juniper, and pine/fir from the smell of it.

What on earth am I going to do with another 10 yds of raw wood chips?

This Fall/Winter I'm going to try a cover crop of Crimson clover, white mustard, and Phacelia tanacetifolia in my 4,000 sf garden, in preparation for pumpkins and corn next Spring.

I don't plan to irrigate the cover crop, other than maybe immediately after seeding, and we typically get 10 - 15 inches of rain between now and April, when I'd want to till the cover crop into the soil.

Should I till in those wood chips when I seed the cover crop? Or will they inhibit germination? If my math is correct, even 10 yds of chips would be less than 1" thick if spread over 4,000 sf of garden. If I till them in with some high N fertilizer, would that offset the N-consumption of fresh decomposition?

Or should I let the pile cook, and then use it to mulch between rows and around plants next Spring/Summer?
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Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Re: Wood chips and tilling and Nitrogen . . . .

If they are fresh, you could inoculate with mushroom spawn — try fungi perfecti for source— they would be close (ish) for you and they have very thorough information site. The type of wood chips you have will determine the best species, though I suspect oyster mushrooms will grow on anything. In your climate, you might also be able to grow king oyster/eringi or Phoenix oyster. Resinous woods are also favored by chicken of the woods, I believe.


...oops, sorry I just checked out their site — hadn’t been there in a while — and there is an announcement that they’ve stopped selling ready to grow kits as of this fall. But this page offers a referral to other sources — maybe you’ll have luck with one even closer to you @waterbug:

Where Did Our Ready-To-Grow Mushroom Kits Go? — Fungi Perfecti
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

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Location: TN. 50 years of gardening experience.

Re: Wood chips and tilling and Nitrogen . . . .

1 year ago I got 10 tons of free mulch from the country and tilled it into my garden. I rented a $50 trailer to haul it then rented a $50 tractor with front loader to spread mulch on my garden. The mulch I got was already aged about 1 year my soil ph went up to 8 ph most plants had no problem for a while. Corn showed low nitrogen problems within 2 weeks I had to pour a few gallons of kitchen vinegar on the soil to lower the ph for corn every day for a week. Soil had no nitrogen I had to add 1 lb of Urea every other day for every 40 ft row of corn all summer Then beans had the same problem & vinegar & Urea fixed the problem. Next tomatoes & peppers needed Urea & vinegar. If soil is above 8 ph nutrients is not available to plants. I am very stingy with fertilizer I buy it in 50 lb bags but seldom use it, this year I used 100 lbs of Urea & 100 lbs of 15-15-15. My garden could have used another 50 lb bag of Urea. My garden is about 35' x 60'

40 years ago I got mulch like you have. I sprinkled it between the rows within 2 weeks all the plants in the garden were yellow and dying from low nitrogen. Many of my plants died. There was no internet then for me to learn vinegar solves the problem so I never put anymore of that mulch on or in my soil.

Few weeks ago I put 50 lbs of sulfur on my garden to lower the ph. I also added 100 lbs of Urea to speed up the composting. After adding sulfur you can not plant anything for 4 months. I am worried sulfur will stop the organic material from composting in the soil.

Urea needs calcium & rain to convert it to a different type nitrogen that plants has use. I think you should add 100 lbs of Urea and some calcium to your mulch pile let it age 6 months or longer before using it.
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Super Green Thumb
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Re: Wood chips and tilling and Nitrogen . . . .

Just a quick caution:

Waterbug be careful about handling this material. One of the most severe "colds" that I have had came after moving a similar pile of chips. It also had just enough time to heat up as they began to decompose.

I used them to mulch garden paths.

We are each other's harvest; we are each other's business; we are each other's magnitude and bond. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks

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