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What wood chips from Texas trees are safe and break down properly for hugelkulture use?

 
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What wood chips are safe and break down in garden for hugelculture?  

 
gardener
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Once the wood is dried well (at least one year from being cut) everything except eucalypts and perhaps walnut are useable for building a hugel.

Prime species are Oak, Hickory,Alder, Birch, Aspen, Ash, Beech.
These can be used right after they are cut with no drying time necessary, just keep in mind that the function of wood in a hugel is to capture and hold water, that is why it is always best to use wood that is already decaying.
 
steward
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I'm not a hugel expert but I'm pretty sure they strongly suggest to not use wood chips in a hugel berm.  I think you want logs and sticks.  I think it's due to the chips tying up a ton a nitrogen for a long time so the growies can't grow.

 
Bryant RedHawk
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This seems to be a  very popular misconception about wood, that it ties up all the nitrogen or at least most of it.
This is an Urban Myth.
The only Nitrogen that would be tied up by wood chips would be the nitrogen in direct contact with the wood chips, as little as one inch away will show free nitrogen that isn't in anyway bound up by wood.
Then there is the fact that nitrogen needs bacteria to become bound to anything.
Nitrogen fixing bacteria turn N2 into ammonium which is the form that plants can use.
This means that there is at the most a 1 cm space of soil that can possibly become bound up and unavailable to plants because of the presence of wood chips.

Redhawk
 
Mike Jay
steward
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I just found one video of Paul that discusses wood chips in hugelkulture.  The pertinent part starts just before the 5:00 mark.  This is an older video so the thinking on this may have evolved.  But that's where I got my misconception.




 
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In my humble opinion, gardening in the Texas Hill Country offers a lot of challenges that do not meet with other criteria. What works in Zone 8a in the Dallas/Fort Worth area does not work for Zone 8a in the Hill Country.

Finding wood chips in the Hill Country might also provide a challenge.  I would be careful that the wood chips do not contain Ashe Juniper.  While it may work for many it is too risky to attempt and set up a fail.  The possible allopathic properties of the juniper is worth considering.

Wood chips containing juniper might be great for a mulch.  I have been thinking of using their leaf matter for my garden paths to keep the grass from growing.  I am afraid the wind would just blow it away.

While I have not done hugels I am under the impression that to make them work here you need wood that will not dry out fast.  My ground dries up very quickly after a rain even though it is clay based.

These are just some of my thoughts.  I wish you the best with your gardens.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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hau Mike, No worries mate, that used to be a valid idea, but in the last three years there has been research done on the idea of wood chips or wood in general binding up nitrogen.
Plants want ammonium not free nitrogen so, unless the wood is sucking up ammonium, which is made by the bacteria and some fungi, then any nitrogen the wood sucked up would not be the form the plants need anyway.
Fungi will within a period of 3 months, inhabit any wood laying on soil, this will start the decay process and release some ammonium to the soil.

Just about everything written about wood binding up nitrogen was written over 3 years ago.
 
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If you're in North Texas there's a service called Chip Drop that's pretty good. other metropolitan centers may have an equivalent.

For local species, I would avoid Walnut, Texas Walnut, Magnolia, Osage Orange, Cedars and Cypress (cypresses?)

All are allelopathic to one degree or another, and will take forever to break down besides.
 
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