If you have lots of time you could create your own woodchips with an axe and logs of specific trees you like. I'm going to create a birdbath by chipping away with an axe at my backyard tree and all the 'waste' will be used for the garden.
Paths get a decent thick covering, so that even in the depths of winter we can get around the property without getting muddy boots.
Perennials beds have had it, and it works well for some of them - in particular the strawberries (when I can keep the squirrel population under control!).
Annual beds don't work so well, as in my wet and warm climate I need to regularly hoe the surface to make sure that the weeds don't run rampant. Hoe-ing and chips don't work well, because the hoe gets stopped by the chips, and turning the chips into the soil robs nitrogen.
I do put it round fruit trees, where smothering the grass makes a big difference to the tree growth.
I think this is quite a local condition, as I have heard from others in drier and hotter climates who do this well. Do a test area and see for yourself.
Michael Cox wrote:Do a test area and see for yourself.
I do most of my annual gardens with wood chips, that's why I was curious. Definitely people need to try things in the own area to find what works best for them. I think the biggest problem people have with wood chips is exactly what you said, it takes a few years before they work really well.
I'll generally take any thing, even eucalyptus (which also has suppressive qualities), but I won't take a load that if full of stringy palm trimmings. Its a nightmare to move.
I've also gotten a load where they had chipped a full Brazilian pepper tree, and it was chock full of seeds. I was pulling Brazilian pepper trees for the next two years. it was simple enough to just reach down and pluck a baby tree out, but it was extra work. Luckily, that entire load of mulch went in one place, so the sprouts were concentrated in one area.
Todd Parr wrote:I use whatever kind I can get and I have never worried about the type of wood. As far as I can tell, it has never made any difference and I use woodchips everywhere. Other people opinions may vary but that has been my experience.
Todd, I am doing the same. We have quite a bit of cherry, walnut, hickory and pecan around here. My experience is that if you are picky with arborists, you will get nothing. What is funny is that the "hardwood mulch" people pay for is totally mixed with all those species included! I make sure to mix the loads whenever I can to minimize the concentration, but in my opinion the carbon and soil protection with new plantings are more important. I do add rock dust to ensure the micorrhyzae have all the goodies to break it down, and the dust I get is pretty high calcium so it also neutralizes the acidity to some degree. Just looking at the disagreement in lists of juglone-tolerant plants in various sources reveals that there is a level above which species get stunted in my opinion.
I was just spreading a load of pine which was about half needles on my blueberry/strawberry acid-lovers hugel, but because it is what I have it will go on some other places as well. Rock dust is cheap, the soil built in a year with this deep mulching is just too good to pass up.
As an aside on the nitrogen fixation, it is almost impossible to have clover with the pH this deep mulch generates, but the autumn olive is happy and I am trialling caragana and senna as well. Once the mulch has been on and unturned for a year or so the fungi seem to produce adequate nitrogen. That may change as the plants grow...