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Hardwood chips, or soft

 
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Does anyone have a simple way to tell the difference between hardwood chips, and softwood chips? I ended up with 5 large piles, and it would be nice to know what is what when deciding what goes where.  Thanks
 
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Jen, what are you going to use the chips for?

Eric
 
Jen Fulkerson
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Most of the area's I will use them it doesn't matter, like in walk ways, and in my rose garden, my chicken yard ect.  I have a new box of wine cap mushroom spawn mycelium.  I would like to use hardwood when planting (for lack of a better word).  I have 5 piles, I asked for 3, but they just kept coming until I asked them to stop.  Anyway I know at least one of them is hardwood, because they told me it was, and I think I remember which one it is. I was just wondering if there was a way to tell.  Just to make sure.  Thanks
 
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Since you posted in the Mulch Forum, I assume you are using these woodchips for garden paths, in garden beds, as a top dressing or in compost, or all of the above.

Hardwood chips are from deciduous trees like the ones that lose their leaves in the fall. Softwood comes from a conifer like pine, cedar, and cypress.

The hardwood chips will last longer before breaking down.

You can scratch softwood easier than you can scratch hardwood.

You may also be able to tell by the smell of the wood.  That is why different woods are used in BBQ to give the food different smells.

I hope other members can offer you some better suggestions.
 
Eric Hanson
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Jen,

So for the Wine Caps, the real concern is that you don't have conifer wood in the mix.  Soft hardwoods like poplar or willow (honestly, how does willow make the hardwood list?) will work just fine for Wine Caps.  Even conifer wood will be OK as long as it does not have sap in it.  I would grab a batch and smell it to see if it smells like pine wood.  If it does, then I would use this for garden paths.  But it it has no pine smell, I would go ahead and use it as the mushroom bedding.  

I would think that you could go ahead and prepare a bed of pine-smelling chips (maybe wet first just to see if a residual pine smell comes out?) and go ahead and sow/plant with Wine Cap spawn as if it were any other wood.  In some ways, I have come to appreciate the softer non-conifers more than the true hardwoods.  What I am finding is that the Wine Cap fungus seems to establish faster in the softer woods than in the oaks and hickory that I have around me.  This is to be expected when one uses what happens when sowing in straw--very rapid colonization and fruiting.

So good luck!  Use your nose and hopefully you get a mixture of softer and harder woods to allow for both fast colonization and a nice long spawn run.

Eric
 
Jen Fulkerson
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Thank you both, I will scratch and sniff haha and see if I can figure it out.  Thanks 👍😊
 
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