Logs are better for HK. They last longer and while they may lock up some N the first year, it'd be nothing like a bed of woodchips.
William Spettmann wrote: But unless I excavate the existing soil,
my concerns would be prolonged drought and watering restrictions.
The soil here is very fertile
I'm all for not excavating if you don't need to, however, if you are wanting to get maximum effect out of the wood chips, I would dig a trench and lay the chips in that so that they are below grade, thus rainwater on grade would go into the space and the wood chips are more likely to stay wet for longer. You will also have more soil (the excavated material), to put on top.
Of course if you do not want to excavate, all the power to you, but it means importing soil when you have fertile soil, which seems unnecessary.
William Spettmann wrote:Living on Long Island, New York, my concerns would be prolonged drought and watering restrictions. The soil here is very fertile, and I plan on harvesting rain water in the event of a long drought.
Please consider adding your location to your profile.
I grew up on LI. When I was 20 I made a compost pile and was told it was "technically illegal." This was almost 30 year ago, however.
Are you reluctant to make raised beds taller than 12"? Some people bury the logs. This isn't a bad way to go because then the lawn is ripped up, you've got a pile of dirt to put over the soil and you're ready to plant.
Thank you all for taking the time to share your knowledge with me
This is my plan, once the season allows it. Use old rotten logs for the majority of bulk, then fill in the voids with wood chips as I go. Mix-in and cover with manure, compost, and soil.
I agree with digging it in, if only slightly. It would seem to take a lot of extra soil to not do this first.
Hi! I did something similar last summer. Took 8" concrete blocks, stacked them 3 high, then filled with mostly wood chips. Used 8" of good garden soil/compost/sand over the top of the chips. Got a Fall garden planted, the stuff does well, but I find it needs more water than the stuff grown in the regular garden soil. I am all-too rapidly approaching 65 years of age, and the main idea was to eliminate so much stooping and crawling. Arthritis in the knee, you know.
I call mine a "Semi-Hugel Raised Bed." I guess the jury is still out, but I do feel that if water conservation is one of your goals, you'd be better off using the chips for mulch. I had 30 or 40 loads of chips and am just about through them with the raised bed, and mulch, and then I composted a bunch of them too. Used horse manure, built a hot style, 21 day pile, then covered with a tarp for the winter...
I don't have a particular axe to grind here. IMO composting will get the fastest, best, and most long-lasting results, if the basic soil is even half decent. If you have a good, rich soil to begin with, my bet would be that composting would give you the best results...
Just my 2 cents...
Thank you all