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Wood chip selection

 
pollinator
Posts: 194
Location: NorCal
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The wonderful thing about getting wood chips from a local tree service it they are free.  The company I contacted even asked if there was any wood I didn't want.  I told them I don't want English, or black walnut or oleander.  I know Oleander's poison dissipates after 50 days of composting, I just didn't want to deal with it, especially knowing there would be leaves, and maybe even flowers mixed in.  
I asked for three loads, and the first two are beautiful!  The last load, as big as the first two combined is horrible!  I don't know what it is.  It is a very light in color, it shredded instead of chipping, there are tons of long thin strips of wood. This makes it very hard to shovel.   I also found branches with red berries, I thought maybe hawthorn, but the berries don't have a dark spot on the bottom. It is running so hot it steams.   Worst of all there is so much fungus it literally forms a cloud when you move it, and I don't have a respirator.  
I thought about calling the company and asking if they know what the last load was, but didn't find all this out for a couple weeks after delivery, and thought it might sound ungrateful.  
The reason for this post is to gain knowledge of other wood to avoid.  So next time I will be happy with all the chips I get instead of having to constantly remind myself that it will be worth it in the end.  I hope.  (Most of this pile is going in my rose garden, I hope I don't end up with a host of fugal problems.)
I look forward to your input,
 
Posts: 64
Location: Appalachian Foothills-Zone 7
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Buy yourself a nice pitch fork, maybe two.  One with 5 tines for the coarse, stringy stuff, and one with 10 or more for the fine stuff.  Are you in the wet or dry part of NorCal?  If wet, just give it until spring and the chips will compost a bit, solving your dust problem.  If dry, I would irrigate your pile enough to keep it wet until the dust settles and you can spread it without trouble.
 
Jen Fulkerson
pollinator
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It's very dry where I live.  Thanks for that advice.  I have been wanting to buy a pitch fork  for my compost, but they are expensive.  Maybe I will bite the bullet and get one anyway.  I thought about wetting the pile down, but thought that might make it even harder to move, and worried it is already so hot it steams, so I worried the water would make it even worse.  My daughter was telling me about compost piles that spontaneously combust.  I did a bit of research on this and was left a bit confused.  It sounds like it needs to be a very large pile to spontaneously combust. and it seems recommended to water the pile in hot dry areas, so thanks I will do that now.  (I have been meaning to look that up and your suggestion prompted me to do that.)
 
Posts: 13
Location: Victoria, Australia.
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https://permies.com/t/94167/Lots-lots-woodchips

I suggest reading this thread that covers woodchip safety. My biggest concern with your last load is that while moving it you may inhale a lot of mold spores.
 
gardener
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Location: Los Angeles, CA
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A good fork will run you $50.  Buy it once and use it forever.  Never skimp on tools.  Get one with a good, strong handle, and 4 tines.  NOT a digging fork -- a hay fork/pitch fork.  And not one of those forks with about 8 or 10 tines -- those are worthless.  I know, I have one.

https://www.amazon.com/Truper-880154539-Fiberglass-10-Inch-50-Inch/dp/B005Q7CRNU/ref=sr_1_4?keywords=4-tine+hay+fork&qid=1567318984&s=hi&sr=1-4

A decent respirator will run you $35.  Don't screw around.  Your health is worth a heck of a lot more than $35.

https://www.amazon.com/3M-Paint-Project-Respirator-Small/dp/B001G8WRLU/ref=asc_df_B001G8WRLU/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=241955956487&hvpos=1o2&hvnetw=g&hvrand=8245445704336273313&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9031059&hvtargid=pla-440540688190&psc=1

For $85, you're set.  You'll use that fork for the rest of your life.

 
Jen Fulkerson
pollinator
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You are right the right tool makes the job so much easier.  You are right about the respirator too.  If it had been one of my kids doing the work I would have gotten one and insisted they use it.  For myself I usually think, tough in up and just get the job done, but I don't want to make myself sick.
 
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