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Is it a problem to use "old" wood chips?

 
Bram Svensson
Posts: 2
Location: Sweden, Kronobergs län
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Hello All,

Want to start with a compliment about this forum, it has been a great recourse for inspiration and information to me. After the theory comes practice and now things get stuck a bit in the planning phase of our forrest garden project.
We are planning to convert some of the pastures to forrest gardens. As we don't want to bite of more than we can shew, we start with a area of 1/4 acre (0,1 Ha).
As mulch during establishment we are serching for localy available materials: spild hay, horse manure and woodchips are available in big quantity's.

We are unsure if the woodchips we can get hold of are good to use. They are the branches and bad logs from a recent logging of part of the forest. It is a mixture of pine, spruce, birch and some Aspen. The material has been drying since august. A company is comming in a few weeks time to do the chipping and we will be applying them to the site after the ground have been prepaird, wich we are planning of doing step by step in the growing season with some pigs and a mulched covercrop.

From what we have read it is best to use fresh woodchips and we are unsure if these chips are frech enough to use?

Hope some of you has some good advise for us??

Much thanks in advance
Bram
 
John Polk
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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The older, drier, more rotten they are, the quicker they will become soil.
If they are already pretty dry, once they get chipped, they should break down quickly.

I do not know your rainfall patterns where you are. Dried wood chips could be a problem in areas of light rains in the growing season. If it is a light rain, a thick layer of dry mulch may absorb it all, allowing none to reach the soil. If that is the case, I would suggest clearing away the mulch in a radius around your plants before an expected rain fall. Once the rain is past, push the (wet) mulch back, to help keep the rain in the soil from evaporating.

Each season is different, but after you have finished your first plot, you can 'fine tune' the process for the next plot.

 
Bram Svensson
Posts: 2
Location: Sweden, Kronobergs län
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Thanks for your reply John!!

The chips are still quitte wet, the pine and spruce needles are still green. Good to hear that they will break down quicker after chipping. Could we speed up the decomposition proces even further by pouring urine over the chipped pile?

The rains during the growing season varry, a lot of small rains and some big rains. So we have to just monitor the situation well an act accordingly. or maybe sow a cover crop and mulch later when the woodchips are further decomposed?
 
Clifford Reinke
Posts: 124
Location: Puget Sound
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I tested wood chips on a few beds last year. I thoroughly watered the beds before putting the chips down. The soil under the chips was still moist after a record 81 days with NO rainfall and NO watering. So... this year I am working on putting wood chips over my entire Zone 1 garden. I figure 100 cubic yards should just about do it.
 
Joseph Fields
Posts: 170
Location: Berea, Kentucky
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If your goal is to turn the wood chips back into soil. Mix with manure in one large pile and water turn it regularly. If you want to use it as mulch or a slow release fertilizer, just lay it down. I have used everything from fresh sticky chips to three old fine chips to chunky bark stuff that falls off firewood and sawdust. IMHO older fine stuff works better, the bigger stuff takes longer to break down. When you first lay down wood chips it will briefly bind up nitrogen out of the soil. This can be easily fixed with blood and bone meal.
 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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