hrtull
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Wood Chips

I have been reading much about wood chips being used in veg gardens. I live in central Ohio with some really great soil. Over the years it has lost much of its organic matter and I want to develop the soil. I have an unlimited access to wood chips, oak and beech mainly. Some articles say wood chip are great while others say no. I recently furrowed my soil in rows . The cross section would look something like this ,vvvvvvvv. My question, if I filled the valley of the furrow with chips to the top of the peaks and planted on the peaks will this work. Will it keep depleting the nitrogen. Would straw be better or would the best be seasoned horse stable clean out. Thanks for any information as it will be appreciated.
Last edited by hrtull on Fri May 19, 2017 6:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Shanghaisky
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Re: Wood Chips

I've just learned about wood chips recently as well (in terms of functional mulch, not just pretty flower bed mulch), and from what I have read/heard, if the chips are not MIXED with the soil, they don't steal the nitrogen. That's the reason folks say just to top-dress, never to till them in. I'm interested in seeing what others will say about this, as we have several stumps that have just been chipped that I'd like to mulch with.

imafan26
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Re: Wood Chips

Make sure the wood chips are not walnut. Otherwise it makes a good mulch. Mulch needs to be applied thick enough to block weeds but still lets water through. You should not apply mulch right up to the stems of the plant as that can rot the stems. Pull back mulch around the stems. Unfortunately, it does not eliminate weeding since the weeds will come up close to the plants since that is where the light and water is. Later when it is time to clean up the garden, the mulch can be pulled back and put in the compost pile or reused depending on its condition. You should not dig fresh chips into the garden because it does steal nitrogen from the plants as it decomposes and it also grows fungi on the pieces as it does that.
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Gary350
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Re: Wood Chips

I use saw dust once to mulch the garden plants they all turned yellow and died. Un composted wood pulls all the nitrogen from the soil and all plant life dies.

PaulF
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Re: Wood Chips

Any kind of mulch is better than none at all...but as said above...do not till into the soil until after the season is done. Nitrogen is consumed during decomposition but will then return the nitrogen to the soil after breakdown is complete. Even when piled on rather than tilled in there will be some decomposition taking place at the soil/wood chip interface. You may want to put down a couple layers of newspaper first. A little extra N may not hurt in the fall after the growing season. A soil test will tell you for sure.
Paul F

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Lindsaylew82
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Re: Wood Chips

I have raised rows as well, and if I could get my hands on several loads of woodchips, I would be layering those babies THICK in the furrows between my rows. My furrows are water reservoirs right now. They are much lower than the raised rows.

As long as you're not turning it in, it'll be fine.
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john gault
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Re: Wood Chips

Gary350 wrote:I use saw dust once to mulch the garden plants they all turned yellow and died. Un composted wood pulls all the nitrogen from the soil and all plant life dies.
You shouldn't use saw dust as a mulch, because it creates a barrier that prevents air and water to reach the soil. I was not because it robbed n2 from the soil. I have tons of wood buried in my garden and I have no problem with lack of n2.

See here: https://puyallup.wsu.edu/wp-content/upl ... -mulch.pdf

Excerpt:

"One of the perceptive gardeners at the University of Washington realized that bark mulch had
created a “nearly impenetrable wall between surface water and plant roots” and replaced the bark with
wood chips. Due to its fine texture, sawdust also creates an impermeable barrier, which repels rain and
irrigation water."

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ElizabethB
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Re: Wood Chips

There is always controversy over using wood chips for mulch. As wood chips decompose they generate heat and suck up nitrogen. Neither is good for your garden. If you use your wood chips in the valleys of your rows the main issue will be keeping it wet/cool. Monitor your soil with soil test to make sure you are not losing nitrogen.

If you think your soil is lacking nutrients have a soil test done through your County Extension Office. If your soil is deficient ask for organic methods to increase the nutrients.

Good luck.
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Living and growing in Lafayette, La.

When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant. ~Author Unknown

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Gary350
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Re: Wood Chips

PaulF wrote:Any kind of mulch is better than none at all....
NOT TRUE, I never use mulch and I have no grass and no weeds and I do not spray toxic poison on my garden. People that use mulch have not learned how to grow a garden yet without mulch.

john gault
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Re: Wood Chips

The way I look at mulch is that it's an attempt to copy nature. When you ask most people what the purpose of mulch is, most will say: "To trap in moisture". That's only partly true and in some cases it's not true at all, example my very sandy soil will not hold water even if heavily mulched, because sand is nothing more than rock and the water just drains away, it doesn't evaporate away. Mulch provides habitat for organisms to grow, both microscopic and macro in size. It does this because heavy mulch does trap moisture within itself, but that's not much help to plants as for getting water.

That trapping of water within itself starts the process of decomposition, which eventually becomes the organic matter of soil that provides nutrients to the soil and the crumb-like structure of the soil that traps moisture and promotes further biodiversity in the soil. Another example with my extremely sandy soil is that worms can not live in it, until I build it up with heavy mulching. This all takes a lot of time though.

Your other option is to artificially provide the nutrients to your plants via fertilizers and add soil amendments to improve texture. And spray stuff to kill the weeds (or simply pull the weeds) and after the plants you started growing get bigger they can (in some cases) choke out weed growth.
Last edited by john gault on Sun May 21, 2017 12:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

john gault
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Re: Wood Chips

BTW, I'm a heavy mulcher and don't use any fertilizers, nor sprays to keep out weeds/pests. It is a challenge and takes a lot of patience. It took a couple years before my very sandy soil could support earthworms (not just the red wigglers). My primary goal of gardening is for habitat. And I never use just one type of mulch, I use almost any thing I can get a hold of, including tons of sticks that fall from my four large trees in my yard. And the seed pods of my southern magnolia, worms love eating them; I can't tell you how many times I found them tunneling thru them like they were apples.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Wood Chips

I'm also a big believer in mulch. It suppresses weeds, it helps conserve moisture (not because the mulch hangs on to it, but because the heavy layer over the soil prevents moisture evaporating from the soil surface. This does work better on loamier soil than sand, because the sand doesn't have much moisture left to conserve) AND it breaks down to feed the soil. I use mixed brown and green mulch (e.g. fall leaves AND grass clippings, shredded paper AND pulled weeds). It is a little bit like composting in the garden bed (I just don't put any kitchen scraps in my garden bed, because that just seems yucky to me). When the mixed mulch breaks down, it is a complete soil food, just like compost is.

Gary may not mulch, but then he (as he has written a number of times) has to till in literal tons of organic matter in to his soil. I never till. And I don't add anything to my soil except compost and mulch.
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colibri19
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Re: Wood Chips

We removed an ancient and dead weeping cherry tree from a bed, cutting it to soil level and taking the large surface roots. A year later my DH had someone grind the roots that were left . Much of those chips did remain in the soil - it has now been nearly a year since. I know about the nitrogen levels, but wonder if I sift remaining chips out of the soil and amend with blood meal and compost, will I be able to plant perennials and annuals in another year. I've read on this but don't get a sense of the time needed. Thank you for your comments.

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Gary350
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Re: Wood Chips

rainbowgardener wrote: Gary may not mulch, but then he (as he has written a number of times) has to till in literal tons of organic matter in to his soil. I never till. And I don't add anything to my soil except compost and mulch.
Soil where I live now use to be farm land my garden soil is very good. I don't add tons of organic material to my soil but if I had some good organic material I would us it.

gumbo2176
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Re: Wood Chips

Down south where I live, another consideration is termites. Toss a lot of wood chips in the soil and you have just made a buffet for subterranean termites to form a colony.

One year I tossed bags of wood shavings and sawdust in my compost pile, along with a lot of grass clippings and other organic matter to try to balance it out. I let it sit for about a month and went to turn it over and there they were, a colony of termites.

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jal_ut
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Re: Wood Chips

Except for the veggies we harvest to eat, everything that grows on the garden stays on the garden. All plant residues get tilled back in come fall, including corn stalks. When the leaves fall we can add these to the garden. Grass clippings can also be added if we use a grass catcher. The idea is to put more on than we take off. If you happen to be a hardcore "Organic Gardener" you won't be adding fertilizer from a package, but if not, a little NPK from the store can sure make a big difference in plants performance. Hey the farmers who grow the stuff you buy in the store certainly use NPK.
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