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Fastest growing wood for composting

 
gardener
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Hello,

If I were sufficiently ambitious, I might try my hand at deliberately growing wood specifically for the purpose of chipping & grinding and then Inoculate with probably wine caps or oyster mushrooms.  I can see two approaches.

The first, more conservative choice would be to grow something like a poplar or maybe a poplar/cottonwood hybrid. I once planted one of these and it grew an amazing 6’ per year.

The second approach would be to grow a fast growing bamboo.  I am pretty certain that the bamboo will grow faster & give more composting mass in a fairly short period.  My biggest concern with bamboo is whether or not either wine caps or oyster mushrooms would colonize and decompose it the way they would more typical hardwood.

Any thoughts?

Eric

 
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I think you're on the right track with poplars. These (and willows) are so easy to propagate and get established, and they adapt well to coppice and pollard management for continuous harvest. Easier to chip than bamboo, too, and less likely to spread and cause headaches later on.
 
Eric Hanson
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Phil,

Certainly for ease of chipping the poplars and willows are tough to beat.  Further, fungi just love eating them up and leaving the remnants full of nutrients for plant growth.

Bamboo is more of a puzzle.  In terms of sheer growth rate, bamboo is hard to beat.  They would be easy to chip in that they would be long, narrow “trunks” to feed a chipper.  On the other hand, bamboo is going to dull the chipper knives much faster than the hardwood.  The real question for me is how well a wine cap or oyster will break it down.  They might do just fine in which case one could grow all the timber needed in one strip that would regrow the next year.

Thanks for chiming in,

Eric
 
Phil Stevens
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Bamboo has a high silica content and will definitely dull blades faster. The rods from coppiced trees  are also ideal for feeding into a chipper. This is one of the main reasons I grow willow and mow it down every other year. And yeah, the fungi go nuts on it. Even willow logs don't last more than a couple of seasons if they're in contact with soil.
 
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Can you get wood chips from local sources in your area?  I can get bunches of them from the city and some people have luck getting them from tree services.  Seems like it could be better to divert them from a waste stream instead of growing them for the purpose.

Regardless, in my area, box elder, willow and hybrid poplar would be the ones I'd be looking at.
 
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Chip Drop is a good resource for chips.
 
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Directly answering your original question:

I would avoid bamboo. Not only will it dull blades as mentioned above, it is also notoriously bad for spreading beyond it's intended confines.

Beyond that, looks for something that propogates easily, coppices nicely and is fast growing in your climate and soil conditions. Willow or poplar sound promising. But if you want to go for a more flexible species, which can yield loads of high value materials as well, look at hazel.

Hazel grows on a short cycle (typically harvested every 3 to 6 years depending what products you are after). It is fairly dense, unlike for example willow. It gives you durable poles for use in the garden, and lots of woodland crafts are based on hazel poles. Hurdles for fencing, sticks for beans and peas, walking sticks, pole wood for rustic furniture...

Plus you can also get a nut harvest in the right conditions, with the right varieties.

________

As an aside from your question - it feels like growing wood with the purpose of chipping it is aiming for a low value/utility product from a high value resource. Not only does chipping take considerably effort (tools, fossil fuels etc...), they are often available for free from local arborists. We have a relationship with a local guy who will drop chips when we want through the year.

My preference with waste brash is to make biochar using a pit/trench method. Low capital investment, no fossil fuels and provided you let the wood dry for a while before making the char you can get a nice clear burn.
 
Eric Hanson
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Phil, Mike, Michael, others,

Just to let you know, I don’t plan on planting bamboo for chips.  Or for that matter I don’t plan on planting anything for chips.  This was a hypothetical question.

What do for chips is trim up a long hedgerow each year.  The hedgerows largely consist of autumn olive which itself grows rapidly and will in fact become invasive if not brought under control by something.  I end up making huge piles of brush that then run through a chipper and on to my garden beds.

I have tried using a chip drop service around here but they never show up.  This is weird because I live adjacent to a national forest and there is a local timber industry.  But no matter, my hedgerow grows just fine.

I did see a YouTube video shot in Australia (I think) that showed bamboo being trimmed back and fed to a chipper.  They made mountains of chips.

Eric
 
Michael Cox
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"I live near forests and the never show up"

I've had most luck with tree surgeons doing garden work, rather than, for example, those working on roadsides. My understanding is that companies clearing roads sides usually simply shoot their chips out in a heap on the banks right where they are working. Loading and hauling is an extra unnecessary step for them.
 
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hau Eric, bamboo is not going to be a good food source for winecaps or any of the hardwood loving fungi.
The silica isn't the problem for fungi but it is a problem for any cutting blade, requiring many sharpening stops.
Since Bamboo is a grass, it grows up to 4 feet a day and once it stops the upward climb, it is as tall as it is going to get. (Tonkin is great for fishing rods and poles)

In the bamboo forest you don't find many fungi attacking the dead culms, it seems to be more a bacteria feed than fungi feed.

Poplar is a great wood for coppice for wood chips, willow works but you need to remember that unless the wood has dried for about a year, it is possible for the bark on chunks to propagate a new tree. (ask me how I know this)

Most of the really fast growing trees (except the above two) are soft woods including the conifers, but these are great for chicken of the woods propagation along with a few other choice edible fungi.

Redhawk
 
Eric Hanson
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Thanks RedHawk, that answered exactly the question I was asking.

Like I said earlier, this is not a plan I want to put into action, more of a curiosity.  Thanks.

Eric
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