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Posts: 210
Location: Huntsville Alabama (North Alabama)
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I went crazy and completely covered my backyard in wood chips. Tired of maintaining grass and wanting to make the yard more productive for veggies and fruit.  

I have several fruit trees that I am maintaining to under 15 feet.  Several Asian Pears, Asian Persimmons, Pluots/Plums, Apples.  The pergola will have a 50% shade cloth in the summer and I will grow kiwi (Fuzzy and Hardy).
The black shelters are where I hold my mushroom logs.  I will move all of them behind the white metal building.

BUT

I would like suggestions.  What to plant on the wood chips or should I wait a year? Maybe white clover to keep the chips in place during rains.  Are there any interesting/useful ideas on what I can do between the trees?  I like things that do not require fertilizer/insecticides/etc.

I found something called Orach (Mountain Spinach) which grows 6 feet tall.  Sounds worth trying.

I will need to leave a path big enough for a small compact tractor to haul chips in. How often do I renew the chips? Ever other year but for how long?  Afraid to smother my fruit tree roots by burying them too deep.

I live in North Alabama so it is long hot humid Summers and seemingly shorter Spring/Fall and Winter is getting shorter and shorter but still cold around 15F.  My soil is a loam on top and clay around 1 or 2 foot down followed by boulders.  These pictures are facing due east.

Would appreciate ideas that will continue to improve the soil, attract pollinators and of course feed the family/neighbors.
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Posts: 169
Location: The Arkansas Ozarks
15
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Dennis Bangham wrote:I went crazy and completely covered my backyard in wood chips. Tired of maintaining grass and wanting to make the yard more productive for veggies and fruit.

 -  Cool!

I have several fruit trees that I am maintaining to under 15 feet.  Several Asian Pears, Asian Persimmons, Pluots/Plums, Apples.  The pergola will have a 50% shade cloth in the summer and I will grow kiwi (Fuzzy and Hardy).
The black shelters are where I hold my mushroom logs.  I will move all of them behind the white metal building.

BUT

I would like suggestions.  What to plant on the wood chips or should I wait a year? Maybe white clover to keep the chips in place during rains.  Are there any interesting/useful ideas on what I can do between the trees?  I like things that do not require fertilizer/insecticides/etc.

 -  you should be able to plant most anything as long as you pull the chips back where you are planting and gradually pull them back towards the plants as they grow.

I found something called Orach (Mountain Spinach) which grows 6 feet tall.  Sounds worth trying.

I will need to leave a path big enough for a small compact tractor to haul chips in. How often do I renew the chips? Ever other year but for how long?  Afraid to smother my fruit tree roots by burying them too deep.

 - I would not worry about smothering the roots, the trees should love it.  When you put the chips around the tree, do not pack them high around the trunk.  Just a couple inches at the base of
   the tree and angle them up from there to your finished depth.  If you put them deep at the trunk you can induce some diseases.

I live in North Alabama so it is long hot humid Summers and seemingly shorter Spring/Fall and Winter is getting shorter and shorter but still cold around 15F.  My soil is a loam on top and clay around 1 or 2 foot down followed by boulders.  These pictures are facing due east.  The soil should be phenomenal in a year or so.

Would appreciate ideas that will continue to improve the soil, attract pollinators and of course feed the family/neighbors.

 -  Look at some of Daron's great suggestions in his recent posts on perennials.

 
Ralph Kettell
Posts: 169
Location: The Arkansas Ozarks
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BTW, did you put anything between the soil and the wood chips?  like newspaper or cardboard to cut down on weeds?
 
Dennis Bangham
Posts: 210
Location: Huntsville Alabama (North Alabama)
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I just put down straight chips.  It is around 4 to 6 inches deep and after it settles I might put more.

I was thinking of putting a ring of hardware cloth around the base of each tree.  Leave 3 to 4 inches clear all around and pile up the chips around the net.  

I am hoping this will keep weeds down around the base and still allow a lot of moisture retention and fungal growth.  I am seeing a lot of naturally occuring fungi in the chips as I moved them since they sat for 6 to 8 months.  

I can get as many chips as I can handle but it is getting harder and harder on the muscles to haul them up the hill in a wheelbarrow so I will sweet talk the hunny into getting a small tractor and front end loader to play with.
 
master pollinator
Posts: 442
Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, NC, US
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You could plant some blueberries in between the trees, they are one of my favorites! They may need some water the first year during the very hot and dryer summer months to help get established, but that's about it!
 
Dennis Bangham
Posts: 210
Location: Huntsville Alabama (North Alabama)
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I have tried blueberries before with little to no luck.  My pH is too high.  
 
Posts: 35
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Dennis,
Goji berries like higher PH.  I finally have a few bushes growing, pretty small but you could probably get a few cuttings to stick if you want to give them a try.
greybeardmike
 
Dennis Bangham
Posts: 210
Location: Huntsville Alabama (North Alabama)
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Thanks Mike. I have a couple of Goji going in the front yard.  They seem to spread quickly through underground runners so they need to be kept in check.  
We should probably meet up some day and exchange ideas.
 
Posts: 88
Location: Midwestern USA - USDA Zone 5b
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Dennis Bangham wrote:I just put down straight chips.  It is around 4 to 6 inches deep and after it settles I might put more.

I was thinking of putting a ring of hardware cloth around the base of each tree.  Leave 3 to 4 inches clear all around and pile up the chips around the net.  

I am hoping this will keep weeds down around the base and still allow a lot of moisture retention and fungal growth.  I am seeing a lot of naturally occuring fungi in the chips as I moved them since they sat for 6 to 8 months.  

I can get as many chips as I can handle but it is getting harder and harder on the muscles to haul them up the hill in a wheelbarrow so I will sweet talk the hunny into getting a small tractor and front end loader to play with.



Looking at the photos, it looks like the mulch covers the base of the trees? My phone screen is too small to be sure. Is that what you mean about the bases of your trees? Be sure not to cover the base of your trees with mulch - you can kill them. When my DH decides to mulch, I always follow behind and rake the mulch back from the base of the trees and shrubs. πŸ˜ΈπŸ™€
 
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Hi Dennis,

I would definitely try inoculaing those wood chips with certian edible mushroom spawn, or plan for ways to start incorporating that into your woodchip layering system. For mostly hardwood chips King Stropheria mycelium, and for conifer dominant chips blewit spawn would be worth looking into. Regardless of the plants or bushes you decide on planting, those mycelium strains will help build and feed your soil, while also providing an extra edible food or market resource from your property. If your looking for a nitrogen fixing green crop, which I  would recomend. I would go with an annual, like crimson clover. It will fix nitrogen in the chips, add nitrogen to the surface, help ballence the nitrogen carbon ratios, will reseed if wanted, feed beneficial-insects, look beautiful in bloom, or can be terminated before reseeding by rolling or crimping before it makes seed.

Hope that helps!
 
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There is a gardener in the state of Washington that has used this method for years. He plants by spreading the mulch and putting in the seeds/... . Says he never has to ever water. I always get the name mixed up with Victory gardens and I can't remember the name right now to provide a link. The name has some connection to religion - the gentleman is very religious.

Found it.

https://www.backtoedenfilm.com/
 
Posts: 2033
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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Is that fenced area chickens? Do put some down in there, as the birds will work it hard and break it down to lovely fertile compost for you.

I have extensively used woodchip in our garden and love it for some things. It is great around berry bushes and for strawberries etc... but for us it was definitely unhelpful when it came to annuals. I consistently find that within 12 months or so the grass gets a hold again, but provided the chips are deep enough the grass clumps are easy enough to lift.
 
Dennis Bangham
Posts: 210
Location: Huntsville Alabama (North Alabama)
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"Quote Looking at the photos, it looks like the mulch covers the base of the trees? My phone screen is too small to be sure. Is that what you mean about the bases of your trees? Be sure not to cover the base of your trees with mulch - you can kill them. When my DH decides to mulch, I always follow behind and rake the mulch back from the base of the trees and shrubs. πŸ˜ΈπŸ™€"

Around the trees is an old cement tree ring and very little in the way of wood chips.  Mostly a light covering now.  I will put hardware cloth (6 inch tall) around these so I can get rid of the tree rings and pile mulch up close but far enough away (3 to 4 inch gap) from the trunk so it will not cause rot.    

"Quote I would definitely try inoculaing those wood chips with certian edible mushroom spawn, or plan for ways to start incorporating that into your woodchip layering system. For mostly hardwood chips King Stropheria mycelium, and for conifer dominant chips blewit spawn would be worth looking into."

As I was moving the chips I was finding natural fungi. White and Orange Hyphae so I am letting them do their thing.  I live in a very buggy environment and my warm and hot weather mushrooms (logs) all got infested.  I have logs with cool and cold varieties of oyster and shiitake that produce in "no bug" weather (fall and spring).  I will keep an ear out for varieties that grow on chips and are cool weather fruiting.  

"Quote I would go with an annual, like crimson clover. It will fix nitrogen in the chips, add nitrogen to the surface, help ballence the nitrogen carbon ratios, will reseed if wanted, feed beneficial-insects, look beautiful in bloom, or can be terminated before reseeding by rolling or crimping before it makes seed."

I thought Crimson was a cool weather variety.  I do know that White Dutch grows well here and only gets 6 inches tall.  I still have some will spread it around to see what happens.

"Quote Is that fenced area chickens? Do put some down in there, as the birds will work it hard and break it down to lovely fertile compost for you. "

No chickens but they are allowed under very strict conditions (city ordnance).  I am thinking of maybe getting Muscovy Ducks since they make little noise and don't need a pond.  I would worry about all the Hawks around here.

Thanks



 
Posts: 7
Location: Ilha Terceira, Azores
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Where did you get your mulch? Im with difficulty on that!
 
Dennis Bangham
Posts: 210
Location: Huntsville Alabama (North Alabama)
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I live in an area where there are lots of hardwood trees and some yards are all trees and after 50 to 70 years some have to be taken out.  The local companies have to pay to dump their chips in a land fill.  They can dump them in my place for free.  
 
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