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Todd Parr
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Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
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Just watched this on youtube: Woodchip soil transformation  The difference made to the soil by wood chips is amazing.  The chips were put in paths, with no intention of improving the soil and the soil is completely transformed to an amazing depth. 

 
Marco Banks
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Location: Los Angeles, CA
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books chicken food preservation forest garden hugelkultur trees urban woodworking
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It just seems so simple—and it is.  Add organic mulch, step back, and let the soil biota do the rest.

I'm surprised that there weren't many worms in his video.  Decomposed wood chips are a perfect worm nursery — usually there will be dozens of worms even in a small hole like he dug. 

It absolutely KILLS ME to see people hauling wood chips to a landfill.  That's a crime, in my book. 

Think of how much carbon that guy has sequestered when his soil is black and full of organic matter 26 inches deep.  Thousands of pounds of carbon, and thousands of gallons of water captured, just by dumping a few wheelbarrow loads of chips on his garden paths every year.

Do people get tired of hearing us "Back to Eden" types talking about the wonders of wood chips?  Chips have been, without a doubt, the single best thing I've ever done in my garden and integrated food forest.  Having used them now for over 15 years, I still add them annually.  I can't seem to get enough of them.
 
Todd Parr
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Marco Banks wrote:Chips have been, without a doubt, the single best thing I've ever done in my garden and integrated food forest. 


I couldn't agree more.  By far the most successful thing I have done is using load after load of wood chips.  I would love to figure out a way to device a test of hugel beds compared to wood chip beds.
 
Marco Banks
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Location: Los Angeles, CA
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Perhaps this merits its own thread, but it would be interesting to see someone think through the similarities and differences between a hugel and just wood chip mulch.  There are some key points of intersection, and some key distinctions.

Both are ways to introduce a significant amount of carbon into the soil in a short amount of time.

Both create a fantastic medium for fungal growth.

Both create excellent conditions for water retention.

But the differences are many.

Chips "gas off" much quicker as they break down, and thus, need to be replenished regularly.  Hugels are more stable and lasting.

Hugels initially tie-up nitrogen in the soil until the wood sufficiently breaks down, whereas chips sit on the surface and don't pull N from the soil.

Hugels put a great deal of carbon deep down into the soil profile, whereas chips depend upon worms and other biota to transfer that carbon down from the surface to the lower levels of the soil.

Chips keep the sun from irradiating the soil, whereas a hugel's wood is buried, so the UV rays cook the exposed soil on top.

Chips are easy to move, rake-up, repurpose, etc., whereas a hugel is stationary.

Hugels create more surface area (on their hilled-up sides) whereas chips just cover the existing surface area of the soil.


BOTH are amazing techniques to be utilized by serious gardeners and permaculturalists.  Both have a place within my garden.
 
2017 Permaculture Design Course at Wheaton Labs
http://richsoil.com/pdc
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