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Allelopathy in Eucalyptus mulch

 
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Hi all,
My neighbour has a commercial distiller visiting his property to process thousands of Eucalyptus trees to make Eucalyptus oil. We have a loader, access to trucks and other large machinery - and a large food forest needing many metres of paths..... Can I use this byproduct/waste as paths through my future food forest and other areas where weed free paths are required? I intend to use spoilt hay, sheep manure and chop + drop as mulch close to plants, but would like to mulch the paths with the Eucalyptus.
Before you suggest I’d be better off getting the local tree loppers to deliver, I’m hundreds of kilometres from these services....
I’d be nervous walking through/harvesting/pruning in my future food forest without clear wide paths as we have the most venomous snakes and spiders on the planet sharing our home (I’ve disturbed several red back spiders in the last week and encountered a couple of 2-3 metre snakes in the paved verandah/carport/pergola area surrounding the house.)
This bounty of low cost mulch on our door step could be manna from heaven.... or a complete disaster for our food forest. Conflicting reports on the internet...
Not sure what species of Eucalypts are being distilled, but I know they’re a mixed bag.....
Any help or advice appreciated!
 
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Location: Northern Tablelands, NSW, Australia
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I’ve used eucalypt woodchip, albeit mixed with other species, on veg beds without any problems of allelopathy or otherwise. I cannot see any issue if you are using it just on paths. The oils in the wood will break down over time and while doing so may inhibit weed growth in the paths.
 
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Location: Australia, New South Wales. Köppen: Cfa (Humid Subtropical), USDA: 10/11
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Envious! Yes, that would be perfect stuff to use on garden pathways and, the smaller chips could be incorporated into compost.

 
gardener
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Location: Pacific Wet Coast
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Welcome to Permies, Meridie!

It isn't clear to me whether the Eucalyptus trees are on the neighbor's property. People often express similar concerns about cedar, and I have observed that on my property where there are many 100+ foot tall cedars, there is still plenty of undergrowth and the cedar mulch may slow down, but certainly doesn't stop plant growth. In comparison, our one Eucalyptus tree, which was planted by a former owner, seems to take a long time to decompose and isn't very good at growing weeds under it, although a boxwood under its drip-line is perfectly happy. We simply don't have a Eucalyptus ecosystem here and it wouldn't have survived if it wasn't in a relatively sheltered spot. I've also read up on a number of other plants with a reputation for allelopathy. One interesting thing I read is that if you can find shrubs or forbs which are known to tolerate that plant and form a guild with it, if one plants those as a "buffer" between it and the other plants one wants to grow, it will help them all "play nice" together. What I'm suggesting is that if you have a plant that seems to be suffering, and think it might be something from the Eucalyptus path that is contributing, find a plant that they both like as a border/understory plant to act as a soil level filter and see if planting that helps. Ensuring that you've got lots of supporting friends at the mycorrhizal  level, should also help. Are there some mushrooms that particularly like Eucalyptus? We've had something that looks sort of like Turkey Tail Mushroom grow on our dead branches.  
 
Meridie Fricker
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shrubs or forbs which are known to tolerate that plant and form a guild with it, if one plants those as a "buffer" between it and the other plants one wants to grow, it will help them all "play nice" together.

Great suggestion! Time for some research. I’m planning on growing trees/shrubs etc that do well in an arid-temperate (we’re on the cusp) zones with an annual rainfall of 12”, though the last two years we’ve been here have only had 8”. Watching Geoff Lawton’s Greening the Desert videos helps.
I’ve found information on plants that tolerate walnut, but conflicting reports re eucalypts.
 
Meridie Fricker
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Ray South wrote:I’ve used eucalypt woodchip, albeit mixed with other species, on veg beds without any problems of allelopathy or otherwise. I cannot see any issue if you are using it just on paths. The oils in the wood will break down over time and while doing so may inhibit weed growth in the paths.



Thanks Ray, you’ve given me hope. Theoretically the mulch won’t have much oil as that’s what is being extracted. The proposed food forest is fairly large - Stage one is about 35m x 18m. Already mulched with spoilt hay and sheep manure (brewing in situ for the last 12 months). Just waiting for the fencing to be completed, against marauding sheep, feral goats, kangaroos and wallabies.
I’ve already propagated a few trees for the FF, but will establish tough ‘shelter belt’ hedges as windbreaks and nurse/shade trees first.
 
Meridie Fricker
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F Agricola wrote:
Envious! Yes, that would be perfect stuff to use on garden pathways and, the smaller chips could be incorporated into compost.

[/quote
Oh good, thanks for your encouragement. Will make the Eucalypt pathways in Stage One and stockpile/compost the remainder for Stages 2 & 3 (6-12 months away) a few metres away by the compost bays.

 
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Location: Dandenong Ranges - Oz
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Meridie Fricker wrote:Hi all,
My neighbour has a commercial distiller visiting his property to process thousands of Eucalyptus trees to make Eucalyptus oil. We have a loader, access to trucks and other large machinery - and a large food forest needing many metres of paths..... Can I use this byproduct/waste as paths through my future food forest and other areas where weed free paths are required? I intend to use spoilt hay, sheep manure and chop + drop as mulch close to plants, but would like to mulch the paths with the Eucalyptus.
Before you suggest I’d be better off getting the local tree loppers to deliver, I’m hundreds of kilometres from these services....
I’d be nervous walking through/harvesting/pruning in my future food forest without clear wide paths as we have the most venomous snakes and spiders on the planet sharing our home (I’ve disturbed several red back spiders in the last week and encountered a couple of 2-3 metre snakes in the paved verandah/carport/pergola area surrounding the house.)
This bounty of low cost mulch on our door step could be manna from heaven.... or a complete disaster for our food forest. Conflicting reports on the internet...
Not sure what species of Eucalypts are being distilled, but I know they’re a mixed bag.....
Any help or advice appreciated!



I'm in Australia and have been using high volumes of it for a couple of decades and using it fresh from the chipper trucks.

I've used it in the tropics around pineapples and bananas and in temperate covering tomato, lettuce, kale etc.

All good.
 
pioneer
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I like to call it "temporarily allelopathic", as the toxins break down after a few months. Here are some photos of my eucalyptus mulch gardens...
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