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All the Great Things about Wood Chips

 
gardener
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My chicken yard is a long ago horse corral.  It was so dry and hard most weeds wouldn't even grow there, and forget about digging.  A few months ago I finally got my son to dump a load of wood chips into the chicken yard.  I started to spread them out, but stopped deciding the chickens would enjoy spreading them around.  They did a pretty good job spreading them over the yard.  
Yesterday out of curiosity I pulled the chips aside, and under was dark damp digable soil.  We have had basically no rain, and I don't water.  Yet in only a few months the wood chips have transformed the soil from dry hard pan to beautiful soil. Not to mention giving the chickens endless hours of entertainment.  I am a true believer!  Wood chips are a miracle soil cure.
 
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Jen Fulkerson wrote:My chicken yard is a long ago horse corral.  It was so dry and hard most weeds wouldn't even grow there, and forget about digging.  A few months ago I finally got my son to dump a load of wood chips into the chicken yard.  I started to spread them out, but stopped deciding the chickens would enjoy spreading them around.  They did a pretty good job spreading them over the yard.  
Yesterday out of curiosity I pulled the chips aside, and under was dark damp digable soil.  We have had basically no rain, and I don't water.  Yet in only a few months the wood chips have transformed the soil from dry hard pan to beautiful soil. Not to mention giving the chickens endless hours of entertainment.  I am a true believer!  Wood chips are a miracle soil cure.



Pretty much anytime you lay down wood chips, straw or any kind of mulch where wasn't,  microbes in the soil will become active, worms will me attracted, the soil will become progressively more and more arorated, and the soil food web will begin forming.

From one perspective the food web is based on on a mulch layor of carbon. Available nitrogen will eventually be there with out adding  any, and far more likely than not, phosphorous and mineral solubilizing microbes will establish themselves and flourish.
 
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Today, we hauled two pickup loads of aged/aging wood chips home and now I'm trying to decide how best to utilize them. We had planned to haul in some topsoil and build a new potato bed of about 500 sq. ft., and the chips were going to be the mulch. Now I'm wondering if we need the topsoil at all. There are more chips available (total of 10 yards), so we could really smother the existing ground and plant potatoes directly on the ground, covered with 6 inches of chips.
The existing soil is stony (which we'll pick out, regardless) and sandy with nearly non-existent topsoil.
So, I'm looking for advice as to whether I should haul in some topsoil or just pile on the wood chips.
 
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Somewhere in Permies is an article where they planted the potatoes on small soil mounds and then covered with woodchips.  Went back later and showed how easy it was to harvest the potatoes.
 
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I would simply use the Chips, as they decay they will build you soil. They are great for Potatoes since the chips can be the growing medium and weigh less than any soil covering, which makes harvest easier.

Redhawk
 
Michael Helmersson
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:I would simply use the Chips, as they decay they will build you soil. They are great for Potatoes since the chips can be the growing medium and weigh less than any soil covering, which makes harvest easier.

Redhawk



Thank you, Bryant. I've enjoyed reading your many posts and learned a lot from them. Your response here is all I needed.
 
Dennis Bangham
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Trying this is now a must do next year.  My wife grows the Asian White Sweet Potatoes.
 
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I love Asian sweet potatoes: They have an after taste of chestnuts. they go great with the thanksgiving turkey in the stuffing and they keep better and longer than regular potatoes if you don't get them chilled. They store very well at room temperature. they taste nothing like the orange yam/sweet potatoes you get in the store. It is like they are not even related.
I wish they didn't sprawl and replant themselves a couple of feet away. I've taken to growing them in beds and large planters: It makes it much easier to dig them out. A thick layer of mulch also makes it easier. I can get leaves for free in the Fall, so this has been my go to for mulch in my sandy soil. I've gotten wood chips from the county after some storm and I use those in paths between the beds while they rot. Depending on your soil, sweet Asian potatoes should do really well under chips. Maybe they would not re plant themselves as easily or travel quite as far? Hmmm. Food for thought!
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Willie Smits: Village Based Permaculture Approaches in Indonesia (video)
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