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Scott Martucci
Posts: 11
Location: Boonsboro, Maryland - Zone 6b/7a
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Looking at getting woodchips for free and wondering if there are any types of wood other than juglones that I should be careful about? I plan to use chips on garden beds that will sit over the winter as well as around fruit trees. With the free chip deliveries I don't get much say in what we get so I may get some juglone in there and not sure how to deal with that. How do people deal with the possibility of getting juglone species in free chip deliveries? If I leave it sit for a period of time before spreading can I then use it? I have an option with one place to pick pine and poplar as acceptable and as near as I can tell people don't want it for burning due to creosote buildup but for the garden it seems to me it should be fine, am I right?
 
Todd Parr
pollinator
Posts: 1316
Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
55
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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.
 
Tim Kivi
Posts: 20
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I think walnut wood poisonous for many plants and gardens.

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.
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1678
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
54
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We use MASSES of woodchip, but I have learned to be selective about where it goes.

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.
 
Todd Parr
pollinator
Posts: 1316
Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
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Michael, is there a reason you don't do the same with your annuals as your other plants, ie. put the wood chips thick enough to stop the weed growth, or do you just find it easier to hoe the weeds than to have to move the wood chips to plant?
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1678
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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When I tried it on the annual beds there was noticeable nitrogen depletion for the first few years. On top of that in our climate there is still some inevitable weeding needed, which with the chips down needed hand weeding as the hoe doesn't pass easily when there are large chips.

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.
 
Todd Parr
pollinator
Posts: 1316
Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
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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.
 
Marco Banks
Posts: 593
Location: Los Angeles, CA
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books chicken food preservation forest garden hugelkultur trees urban woodworking
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In our area there are lots of palm trees:  queen palms, Mexican fan palms, date palms . . .   Palm fronds turn into a tangled mess when they run them through a chipper.  They are stringy and fiber-y, so they don't chip cleanly the way most other trees do.  That makes them very difficult to scoop and move into the wheelbarrow.  When you put your fork into the pile to get a scoop of chips, it's like you grab hold of the entire stringy thing.  It's like trying to run a comb through a kids hair that hasn't combed it in 2 years. 

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. 
 
David Livingston
steward
Posts: 3665
Location: Anjou ,France
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Anyone tried Cherry Laurel ? Definite nitrogen in there unfortunately it's in the form of cyanide

David
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1678
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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We have a laurel hedge that we trim and have chipped in the past. It tends to be leafy rather than woody and once shredded it heats up within days as it starts composting. Not ideal to spread directly as it burns the ground! These days our laurel chippings go on the compost instead of direct mulch application. And yes, there is a STRONG smell of almonds!
 
Tj Jefferson
pollinator
Posts: 245
Location: Virginia USDA 7a/b
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bee chicken hugelkultur hunting
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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...
 
bruce Fine
Posts: 50
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you might want to compost the wood chips first then add the compost to your garden. i believe wood chips will take lots of natural fixed nitrogen from your garden soil.
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://stoves2.com
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