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Digging in 50% wood chips worked well for me. Your experiences?  RSS feed

 
Eric Markov
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Location: Bay Area CA zone 9
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Just dug up some soil in my wood-chip beds to see why they did so well this last summer.

(My best garden beds had wood chips dug into them.)

Interestingly, roots congregated in areas with lots of wood chips, hardly any roots in areas with no wood chips.

Posted pictures at this url:

http://lowcostvegetablegarden.blogspot.com/2012/10/wood-chip-soil-pictures.html

It seems that the plant roots really liked clumps with half wood chips and half dirt!

Now I'm digging in much, much more chips than I had dared before.


What has been other people experience with digging in wood chips?

How much did you dig in, how deep, how did the plants grow in it?

 
John Gros
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Yeah I have seen similar in leaf litter that has gone fungal. I think you'll find the wood chips with the most roots have white mycelium on and around them. It feeds the roots from the wood and the plant feeds the fungus.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I have seen people warn not to dig chips in, but only pile them on the surface. Digging them in may cause draw down of nitrogen in the soil for bacterial decomposition, so if you dig them in, you might want to dig in some manure or other high-nitrogen material at the same time. Placing them on the soil surface does not cause a nitrogen draw down because decomposition is primarily fungal.

Video about wood chips on the soil surface:
 
Kota Dubois
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Were your wood chips "raminal" meaning from branches less than 3" in diameter? There was an interesting post here several weeks ago on the subject. I downloaded several pdf's that were mentioned there, and it seems that tree trunks and branches larger than 3" are mostly lignin where the molecules are strongly bound together. Raminal wood chips (RWC) are full of lesser developed lignin, sugars, proteins, minerals etc. and feed the soil in very different ways. Highly productive in agriculture when added to the top several inches of soil. I plan on experimenting with it next year, not just using it as mulch like I did this year.

I've been looking for that post but cannot find it. Perhaps it was on another site. I hope I'm not breaking any copyrights by up loading the pdf's here.

Sorry but I changed the original file names so I could better manage them in my data bases.
Filename: que-raminalwoodchips.pdf
File size: 314 Kbytes
Filename: RWC.pdf
File size: 197 Kbytes
 
Chris Watson
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Location: North of Detroit (5b to 6a)
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Correct me if I'm wrong, but from those photos, your native soil appears to be heavy clay. In that case, the good effects you got from wood chips might not be from the wood rotting, but from the fact that you had a bulky material breaking up the clay and creating air pockets.
 
Ken Miller
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Location: Vashon, WA
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I'm the one who posted the links to Ramial chipped wood (RCW). Here is another link that helps explain the process.

I planted garlic yesterday and when I moved the chips back, the bed was loaded with worms and mycelium was beginning to form. This after only being on the beds one month!


http://www.dirtdoctor.com/organic/garden/view_org_research/id/69/
 
Ken Miller
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Location: Vashon, WA
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Do a search: wood chips are our friends. You will find the other links there too.
 
Mary Ann Asbill
Posts: 124
Location: Western North Carolina
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We love wood chips! We dig them in, use them on top, layer in the bottom of beds, layers in bottom of pots, we let them rot, use them fresh - we just use wood chips anywhere and everywhere. Have never had any trouble with the garden and the rotten chips build up the soil.

I guess if there is one problem I would note, it is that even the soil in our garden paths is rich and black and the weeds like to invade the paths. We put mulch in the planting beds so that smothers the weeds there but in the paths, we have to hoe or use vinegar or the blow torch.
 
Eric Markov
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Location: Bay Area CA zone 9
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Just got done digging in more wood chips into 2 of my beds. Definitely "dug out" for now. Won't do any more until spring.

The chips I used were partly ramial, could tell by the needles mixed in. Some probably wasn't.

For my approximately 20 sq ft wood chip bed, I did pour in "Human Liquid Fertilizer" (the yellow stuff) for nitrogen.
Added 5 cups, 2 times during the season. That was enough to keep the leaves green.

If you dig in chips, you do need to add fertilizer, but it isn't something to worry about. It didn't take as much fertilizer as I thought to overcome any nitrogen tie-up.

 
Marc Troyka
pollinator
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Location: East Central GA, Ultisol, Zone 8, Humid
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Eh, I'm not so sure that RCW is science. Wood chips and wood chip sized wood definitely seems to have a positive effect on soil and plant growth, though. Makes me glad that my hugel beds are primarily smaller sized stuff and lots of spikey-woody sweet gum pods.
 
Mary Ann Asbill
Posts: 124
Location: Western North Carolina
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I cannot find the good photos of our main garden beds. But, this link shows some of the wood chip use in and around the upper garden. The raised beds are almost completely wood chips put there over the course of 5 - 8 years. We might have added a bag or two of soil but for the most part it is all wood chips. Some straw is added to the top at times.

https://picasaweb.google.com/meanwhilebackinsaluda/WoodChipUse?authuser=0&feat=directlink

 
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