• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • r ranson
  • Nicole Alderman
  • Pearl Sutton
  • Anne Miller
  • Burra Maluca
  • Joylynn Hardesty
  • Mike Haasl
stewards:
  • James Freyr
  • paul wheaton
  • Jocelyn Campbell
master gardeners:
  • Steve Thorn
gardeners:
  • thomas rubino
  • Carla Burke
  • Greg Martin

composting wood chips with chicken litter and fungi

 
gardener
Posts: 2292
Location: Southern Illinois
383
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Joshua,

So how I got my land?  Well, I live in Southern Illinois, a very rural part of the state, about 300 miles south of Chicago.  I had always wanted to own a piece of land, specifically so that it would not be developed.  When my wife and I went looking for our forever home, I said “hey, let’s just see what is down this road.”  As it turns out, there was a little sign that said “9 acres of land for sale.”  I jumped on it.  I am a teacher and oddly, this was land owned by one of my former students!  It was sort of odd, but we hammered out a deal, got the land, eventually got a contractor, designed and built our house.  I have been caring for the land ever since.  

Sometimes I feel like I own the land, but more often I feel like the land owns me.  Mostly, that is because I feel the need to care for my land.  I am very attached to my land.  Occasionally I feel like the land is more demanding and requires more work than I can do in a timely manner.  But nonetheless I do what I can and in the long run the land cares for me.

Joshua, I could go into far more detail about how I got the land as there were several bumps on the road (my limited experience with real estate—all of 3 transactions—is that emotions tend to run high).  But ultimately I am quite thankful for the land I have.

Eric
 
gardener
Posts: 6605
Location: Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
1245
hugelkultur dog forest garden duck fish fungi hunting books chicken writing homestead
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
hau Eric, Wolf and I are connected to our land too.
I think this happens to most of the people who acquire land for the right reasons, to not only live on it (or like you and I, live with it) but to nurture the land, to help it become better the longer we are upon it.
Some elders at a powwow once told Wolf and me that our strength comes from our land, the better care we take of it, the better we will be too. (then he wandered into what it means to be native and why we were at this particular powwow)
Those of us who understand that we are the caretakers of the planet which gave and gives us life, are kindred spirits for we perhaps have a better understanding of our role here on the earth mother than most of the planet's inhabitants that walk on two legs.

Redhawk
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 2292
Location: Southern Illinois
383
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Kola RedHawk,

I agree wholeheartedly with the statements made by your elders at your powwow.  I grew up in the country and loved it, but sadly thousands of acres suburbanized.  It was sad and terribly painful to watch.  I decided young (I think before 10 years) that what I could do to stop this, at least for my part, was to own the land (own in a strictly legal sense of the word as in how does one own the world, sorta like how does own the wind or rain,) so I could stop someone else from destroying it.  I wish it could be easier for other like-minded people to make these choices.

Eric

 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 2292
Location: Southern Illinois
383
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
2/23/2020

Hello everyone,

I was out on one of the rare sunny, dry days this spring and on a lark I decided to check my mushroom beds.

The east bed/bed #3 hosted a woodchip pile last year at this time after which the woodchips were moved to the west bed/bed #2.  I intentionally left about 6” of chips in bed #3 and even planted a little a few veggies just to try planting in woodchips.  A few veggies grew well, but I am afraid the weeds grew better.

At any rate I checked on both beds.  Bed #3 was inoculated with a few woodchips last year, but as I dug into the pile I saw little to no fungal activity.  The chips were broken down quite well though, probably through bacterial action, and it is very difficult to discern where the chips stop and the soil begins.  The experiment was not a total failure.

Bed #2 on the other hand showed lots of white fungal strands wherever I looked.  I didn’t so much as go looking for fungi as I just stuck my fingers into the chips and there the fungus was.  I am expecting good things from this bed this year.

So with spring rapidly approaching and a huge pile of wood to be chipped I have my work cut out for me.  I am planning on building a proper frame for bed #3 (hopefully before spring break ends in mid-March).  Bed #3 will also get properly inoculated.  There may be some small amount of wine cap fungi growing already, but I cannot find it and that was a haphazard attempt anyhow.


The projects for spring of 2020 look like this:

Bed #2 will get a top-off, but not until I get a nice flush of wine caps.  I plan to plant tomatoes and sweet potatoes there.



Bed #1 will get another top off and I have to replace one of the log edges as the log has decayed into nothing.  I am replacing it with a roll of landscaping straw, a mat of straw all rolled up into a roll.  I expect that very temporary edge to last no more than one year after which it too will be replaced by a permanent edge.  I also plan on inoculating at least some of the chips with oyster mushrooms.  I may plant potatoes there.



Bed #3 will get a proper frame and proper inoculation (with wine caps).  I will also fill the bed with woodchips.  In fact most of my woodchips from this round of chipping will go here.  Although there are a few chips in the bed now, it will take much more to top it off.  I will also give the bed a proper inoculation as opposed to my little experiment from last spring.  If any of last spring’s experiment did survive, they will only help with the next round of spawn.  I am thinking that I will go ahead and did fertile holes and then plant peas and/or beans, partially for the crops, but also for the nitrogen they will fix.



This all sounds like a lot, but it really amounts to making a bed frame and a lot of chipping.


At any rate, this will be my 3rd year into my mushroom project.  If things go as they did last year, this will probably be my final year sowing wine caps as I plan to continue to add chips just to top off from time to time.  I am going to try following up with blue oysters, but the mushroom base will be on wine caps.

Again, I am keeping this updated for anyone wanting to try something similar and if this helps, great!  If not, then no harm done.

Eric

IMG_5902.JPG
Bed #2
Bed #2
IMG_5675.JPG
Bed #1
Bed #1
IMG_5903.JPG
Bed #3
Bed #3
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 2292
Location: Southern Illinois
383
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hello everyone!

I just went out and checked my garden beds for fungal activity.  Fortunately there was activity in all three beds, though it varied based on the individual bed, and in some cases in the individual spot.


The first picture is from bed #1, but on a side that was not inoculated 2 years ago.  It is nice to see that the fungal hyphae are making their way into the area previously not inoculated.

The second picture is from bed #3.  This was an experimental bed without a lot of chips and inoculated with spawn I had left over, just kinda done on a lark.  There is definitely fungal activity, but not consistently throughout the pile.  I imagine that after I build garden edges and expand/build the raised bed, I will have to add more chips which will have to be inoculated, but fortunately they will have some help from below.

The third picture is from bed #2.  This was thoroughly inoculated last year and most areas I look at have fungal activity.  I did find one area where I saw no fungal activity, but I am certain that once temperatures heat up a bit, the fungal hyphae will reach into the fresh/uninoculated areas.
IMG_5924.JPG
Wine Cap spawn spreading into new chips
Wine Cap spawn spreading into new chips
IMG_5927.JPG
Spawn in an experimental bed
Spawn in an experimental bed
IMG_5929.JPG
Lots of spawn in a well prepared bed
Lots of spawn in a well prepared bed
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 2292
Location: Southern Illinois
383
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
3/1/2020

So I found a new development today.

Today I put in a frame for bed#3.  The lumber for the bed is 16’ long, and I thought that was the length of the bed was about 16 feet.  Turns out it was somewhere between 20-25 feet.  I estimate I have 4-6 feet outside the bed on one end.  No matter though as this part has become a dumping pile for my daughters rabbit litter.

At any rate, while working in the chips I saw a lot of what looked like very thin tissue paper emerging from the wood.  No piece is very thick—translucent even—and no bigger than a finger nail.  Beneath these tissue paper formation are a lot of mycelia.  This bed was inoculated with wine cap spawn which appears to be growing rapidly.  This bed also has a lot of rabbit bedding and rabbit pellets, so I am sure that the bacterial count is very high.  

It is dark now, but I will try to get a picture of the tissue paper substance tomorrow.  Could these be a manifestation of the wine caps I sowed last year?  If so, it looks like the whole bed is about to burst and won’t need any mushroom spawn.

Anyone out there with better knowledge of wine caps have any ideas on this one.  I will post a picture as soon as I can get one.

Thanks in advance,

Eric
 
Posts: 9
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
hau Eric, that sounds like a mycelial ribon.  They happen from a buildup of individual strands they tend to stack, and are usually a single strand thick.

Redhawk
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 2292
Location: Southern Illinois
383
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
RedHawk,

Would this be from my wine caps?

Eric
 
B Redhawk
Posts: 9
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I would expect them to be from the winecap mycelium.

Redhawk
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 2292
Location: Southern Illinois
383
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Excellent!  Thanks RedHawk.  I will try to get a picture posted soon but it probably won’t be today—lots of rain and commitments

Eric
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 2292
Location: Southern Illinois
383
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Here is a picture update of my bed #3 which was inoculated last spring.  This fluffy white stuff is located over much of the bed.  Can anyone positively identify it as mycelial ribbon?

Thanks,

Eric

IMG_5934.JPG
Mycellial Ribbon on the surface?
Mycellial Ribbon on the surface?
IMG_5935.JPG
Ribbon in hand
Ribbon in hand
IMG_5936.JPG
Fungal activity under Mycelial ribbon
Fungal activity under Mycelial ribbon
 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
Posts: 6605
Location: Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
1245
hugelkultur dog forest garden duck fish fungi hunting books chicken writing homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hau Eric,  yes that's the stuff.

Redhawk
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 2292
Location: Southern Illinois
383
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks RedHawk!

From a distance this almost looks like ash.  I noticed that it grows most prominently where my daughter dumps the rabbit litter.

I just might use some of that aged rabbit litter as a potting soil since it is freely available.

Eric
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 2292
Location: Southern Illinois
383
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
3/6/2020

Just a quick note:  I just arranged to rent a 12” chipper for tomorrow.  I will have it from about 3:30 today for 24 hours.  Costs $300.  I have a huge stack of wood to chip up.  Hopefully this is a 2 year supply of woodchips as I don’t want to spend another $300 anytime soon.  The good news is that I don’t need to fill up any bed, just top off 3 beds.

I will post before and after pictures soon, but need to go get the chipper right now as my neighbor has a truck that can pull the chipper and he is available tomorrow while our weather holds out (the ground is still soft so we will see how things work out).

Eric
 
Posts: 30
Location: Sierra Nevada Foothills, Zone 8b
4
forest garden trees wood heat
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Best thread i've come across on Permie yet.

I live in Northern California, where due to fire risk and whatnot they are chipping probably 1,000 yards of brush and trees a day in my county. All I have to do is scoop em up and bring em home. Wish I had a trailer, and a tractor, and... I live too far out and on too bad of a road to convince anyone to deliver them.

Anyway I really like this system you all came up with. I have covered about an acre 4" deep to start protecting the bare soil underneath, dug a sunken bed garden and filled the negative space with woodchips, covered my driveway with em as "po man's gravel" and some other stuff too I'm sure. I was less than impressed with how fast they broke down to form garden soil though. No longer!

I have my eye on some piles on BLM land that have been sitting for a while and are more soil than chips already...

I need a tractor.
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 2292
Location: Southern Illinois
383
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Dan,

Thanks for the kind remark about the thread.  I really hope others can learn something from my own success and occasional failure.

Are you considering trying some type of mushroom to break down your abundant chips?  

I just got back from chipping some smallish stuff over at my neighbor’s.  I rented a 12” chipper for what might be about 5 cubic yards of wood!  I have been collecting it for almost a year by now and I have pre stacked piles of wood ranging from 1-2 inch diameter up to 12” diameter.  I really like having those great big logs as you get a lot of chips for relatively little actual physical labor.  Chipping can be surprisingly exhausting, especially when picking up lots of little stuff that does not produce much in the way of chipped material.  Tomorrow I hope to reap a lot of chips from my piles.

I hope to update tomorrow but it might have to wait until Sunday as I know how exhausting this project can be.

Good Luck on your projects,

Eric
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 2292
Location: Southern Illinois
383
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Dan,

I forgot to add, do you see a tractor in your future, or is that just aspirational at this point?

Eric
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 2292
Location: Southern Illinois
383
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
3/7/2020

Pre chipping update:

Yesterday afternoon/evening we chipped up a bunch of my neighbor’s rather small, twiggy debris.  We spent about 2 hours at it and it was surprisingly exhausting, mostly because of the numerous trips down into the edge of the woods just to bring back a couple pounds of highly voluminous, awkward bushes along the edge of the tree line.

Today we will tackle a whole bunch of generally larger debris pre-stacked for convenience and efficiency.  This debris is already stacked close to the chipper, included much larger diameter wood and includes wood 4-10 inches in diameter.  

Large diameter wood really makes a big difference.  It means fewer trips to get more wood.  I have found small, 1-2 inch brushy material to be barely worth the effort.  Lots of trips and a lot of stooping for very little actual woodchips.  4”-6” diameter wood is actually easier to both pick up (less stooping just to collect a few sticks) and many more chips for the effort.

10”-12” inch wood is a gold mine!  We have 3 logs in this category.  They are long, probably heavy, but yield up a LOT of chips for the effort.  Also, I am operating on the principle that when embarking on one of these projects, I want a chipper that will chip about twice the diameter of the average branch.  Judging from past experience working with a 6” chipper, they are slow and feeding one is strangely exhausting as the chipper will only take so much so fast at any point (they also frequently get overloaded and reverse which is annoying!).  By comparison, the 12” chipper has s voracious appetite for wood.  I actually get more work done faster and cheaper with the 12” chipper than a 6” chipper.  I used to rent a 6” chipper for 2 days at $150/day.  I now rent a 12” chipper at $250/day for 1 day and my back hurts less while getting more woodchips faster.  This is a lesson I learned the hard and painful (back issues) way,

At any rate, this is just a preview and I hope to start chipping in 1-1.5 hours and will probably do it all day.

Eric
 
Posts: 34
5
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We don't get a lot of rain in our dry summers, but all my chips have been decomposing faster than I wanted in our garden paths!  I think the constant foot traffic really breaks them down.  The ones in the driveway are mud after a few rains.  We too have chickens that run around our footpaths in the garden so they are constantly turning the "micro pile".  Because of the chickens, or our dry summers, I haven't found an earthworm in a year!  But I can still take soil from our footpaths nonetheless.

You can make out the footpaths in this video.  I think the tall raised beds help to keep shadows on the chips. We had wild mushrooms for a week after a rain.

https://youtu.be/AaPWWJ9JhKs

I second the suggestion earlier...to just make multiple piles with all the space you have and use the oldest to harvest soil.  No need to spend human time that way.  But in my area, I need to make sure the cedar trees don't harvest the soil before I do!
 
Posts: 64
Location: Berkshire County, Ma. 6b/4a. Approx. 50" rain
13
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Eric!

  I rediscovered this thread. Probably too late to be of any use. My inoculation experiment worked beyond what i could have imagined at the start.

The burlap sacs were inoculated in about a months time. Soon enough that I was able to sheet mulch with them to establish brand new beds (the same spring I started them). They were layed on top of gently forked sod, and covered with like 6-12 inches of chips. Which were in turn inoculated by the following spring--more intensely where the water flowed into the chip bed from the sidewalk. I jumped on that and made mini swales and would set pieces of wood on the sidewall when it rained to collect water in them.

Those beds do have some weed pressure from grasses. I've transitioned them to pollinator habitat so I'm lax with weeding. Coincidentally I trialed the soil plug idea too. It's become kind of a go to way to establish new beds for me.

I also used them to inoculate pathways (between raised beds/hugel-pits) I filled with chips. In those areas i got a flush of mushrooms the fall after establishing them. The same growing season! It was wild. A turn of events saw me reestablish the lawn the following season, but mushrooms still flush where the pathways were.


Those sheet mulched beds have inoculated many many more garden beds since. I'll have to dig around in them once they warm up bit to see what the woodchips look like now.

So happy to come across this again, and see your mushroom compost Chronicle.

 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 2292
Location: Southern Illinois
383
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
It’s 3:00 pm.  I just got out of the shower.  We had been chipping since 6:30am.  I hurt and need to take a coma now.  Judging from the pile, which is taller than me (6’3”), we estimate there are between 9-12 yards of chips now.  I will post some pictures, but I have to take my coma.  My everything hurts, but my back in particular.

Eric
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 2292
Location: Southern Illinois
383
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Kamaar,

Great to hear from you again!  So pleased your project worked well!

Mine also worked, and like you, even though I was basically told how the project would be great for soil bedding, I could not have guess just how fertile the bedding was.

I am a little punchy and incoherent, I really hurt right now, mostly in my back, from almost 9 hours of very physical work with a bum back, but I will try to get back later when the agony in my back goes away.  Spoiler alert, this is a very big project that has so far worked out very well, but you can probably judge that by the thread itself.

But Kamaar, so good to hear from you and I am thrilled that you had as good results as I have had.

Talk more soon,

Eric
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 2292
Location: Southern Illinois
383
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
3/8/2020

This is just a couple of pictures that show some idea of the volume that was being chipped yesterday.  The pictures are taken at about 90 degrees to one another.  The first view is convenient as the snow really makes the logs stand out.  View 2 shows the same pile in the center with a tractor for scale (the tractor up to the folded ROPS is about 6'.  It is a little hard to see, but in view 2 the brush pile stretches well to the right.  Unfortunately, neither pile shows how deep the piles go and I that debris in view #2 goes well to the right and only got thicker since the picture was taken.  I took these pictures just to show how big the total pile really was.

For reference sake, the chips got blown into the bed in the foreground of view #2.  That bed is about 5-6' wide by 12-15 feet long.  It used to be a garden bed until I planted mint there and the mint took over everything.  I am calling that spot bed#4.  If you were able to see further to the right of Bed #4 would be Bed #1.  Maybe I will put Bed #4 back into operation again what with all these chips no doubt helping the ground beneath.

It is dark now, but I will get a picture later of the pile we made in Bed #4.

Eric

IMG_5918.JPG
Brush pile to be chipped
Brush pile to be chipped
IMG_5907.JPG
Brush pile to be chipped
Brush pile to be chipped
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 2292
Location: Southern Illinois
383
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
3/8/2020

I just stepped outside to get a couple of pictures of the pile.  The rake in the pile is more or less vertical and the handle is about 5' tall.  The total bed length is a little over 15 feet.  The very top of the pile is over my head.  The second picture is to contrast with the previous thread to show just how open the land is now without the piles of chips blocking the view
IMG_5950.JPG
Broad side view of chip pile
Broad side view of chip pile
IMG_5954.JPG
Landscape view where chips used to be
Landscape view where chips used to be
IMG_5952.JPG
End view of chip pile
End view of chip pile
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 2292
Location: Southern Illinois
383
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
3/8/2020

So what am I going to do with all of these chips?

At this point I am not certain what I am going to do with this mountain of chips.  For at least a couple/few weeks I will let them just sit and age.  There is a lot of green debris thoroughly buried in the pile and a few chipped up logs that were rotting so I am sure there are bacteria and bacterial food easily available.  The partial bacterial breakdown is good for wine caps later on.

My bed#1 had a nice wine cap flush last spring.  I am not certain if there is enough wood left over for another flush of mushrooms but I am going to hold off adding chips until May as that is when I got my mushroom flush last year.  After that I will give bed#1 a healthy addition of fresh woodchips which should get inoculated from below.

Bed #2 was inoculated last spring, has lots of mycelium growing and I fully expect a mushroom flush in a couple of months.  After that I will top off so as to fill back so as to have the level a bit over the edge of the bed.

Bed #3 is the biggest question mark.  I made the frame and put it into place, but the existing experimental chips are taller and wider than I first thought.  In order to be even close to level the chips need to be excavated where the edges should rest.  Further, there are a lot of chips that presently sit outside the frame and need to be brought in.  I might come close to filling bed #3 just by redistributing the chips around the bed.

Whatever the case, I expect to use at least 1/2 of my freshly chipped pile to top off old beds this spring.  I may very well top off again in fall, but I imagine not needing needing nearly so many.  Whatever is left will simply sit on bed #4 to age and I may even start up that bed again but we will have to see how things go.

Kamaar, you popped in at a great time.  Assuming that you read through the whole thread, you likely have a good idea of how my project went over the last 18 months or so.  Really, I am happy for you that your project worked out so well.  It sounds like we have distinctly different projects, but they are still both going well.  In essence, I am trying to make top quality topsoil with my woodchips, something that succeeded beyond expectations last summer.  I am hoping for a repeat performance this year.

As always, I will keep this thread updated.  When I started this thread I was begging for help, but after I got the gist of things, I thought I would keep the thread ongoing—if anyone else wanted to try something similar this record could at least be used as a sort of guide if not outright instructions.

Eric
 
gardener
Posts: 2039
Location: Pacific Wet Coast
724
duck books chicken cooking food preservation ungarbage
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Great project Eric! I hear you how a huge pile of thin, loose material can end up being just a small pile of chips, but I find that the fine stuff tends to shred finer which helps things compost before the bigger chips are ready, so despite the work involved, I'd prefer to do it than just burn it and add all that carbon to the atmosphere.

For other's reading this, if I know I'm going to be pruning small stuff, like grape vines or raspberry canes, I often prune into a garbage can, garden cart, or onto a small tarp. That saves a bunch of time on chipping/shredding day.
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 2292
Location: Southern Illinois
383
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Jay,

Glad that you liked the thread!  You can probably tell how I have grown as a gardener by reading over this thread.

I suppose the ideal diameter material is dependent on your main objective.  Mine is to fill up garden beds, but your goal certainly could be different than mine.  And you are right, some of my chips look a little more like blocks, or sometimes a long, straight sliver of wood.  Since I am decomposing this anyways it hardly matters—for me.  I can see if you were trying to make a more traditional compost pile these large sized pieces would be undesirable.  As far as actually doing the chipping, constant bending over to pick up twigs HURTS after a while, and those twigs make for practically no chips.  As in a depressingly small amount of chips for a lot of pain and effort.  Larger logs are actually easier to pick up, yield up a lot more volume of chips, and reduce the number of times I have to bend over, making my back happier.

We finally got the chipper out and returned to the rental place so now I can see the pile in all its glory.  I will attach pictures tomorrow as I am losing light quickly.  I am going to let the pile sit and rot a little bit before I add them back to my beds

Jay, once again, thanks for the friendly note.  I feel really lucky that others can get something out of this thread and my ongoing project.

Eric
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 2292
Location: Southern Illinois
383
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
3/9/2020

So I thought I would give just a little update.  We were very successful in that we got a lot of chips.  But it was a lot of work, including some unnecessary work.  It has been 2 days since chipping and my back, while getting better, is still sore.  Part of the reason for the pain was the condition of the chipper.

When it was working, the 12”, 85 hp Diesel engine chipper was amazing!  While eating a log, the chipper looked like it was breathing wooden fire!  Unfortunately, the roller feeder was temperamental and failed in a condition where someone (me) had to constantly hold down a safety button to prevent the rollers from reversing and kicking out the wood!  The good news is that it failed about 2/3 through the job.  The bad news was that the last 3rd took much longer to chip than it should have taken.  This made for a long day, but the pile did get finished.

More good news though, when we returned it yesterday we spoke with the manager and got a very nice discounted rate on our next rental.

I am itching to get another picture of the huge heap of chips under good lighting conditions.  Of course, I will update when I get the chance.

Eric
 
Dan Fish
Posts: 30
Location: Sierra Nevada Foothills, Zone 8b
4
forest garden trees wood heat
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
HI Eric,

Sorry for the late reply. I don't usually use the computer on the weekends due to having the worst internet imaginable at home...

I do want to get some mushrooms growing in the next pile I pick up. I actually have no piles right now, I used them all! There is one up the road from me that is about a year to 18 months old and when I last dug some up it was full of fungi inside and about half soil/half chips. This pile, I noticed earlier, was about half small sticks and green matter (ceder branches and whatnot) so I believe that's why it broke down so fast.. But to be sure, pure wood chip piles (as opposed to wood chips and leaves and sticks and junk) break down much slower. I suppose the nitrogen in the greens gets the process going and then the fungi take over. Now I look for the pretty "pure chip" piles to spread where I want to cover the ground and the "mixed chippings" (ramial?) is what I am going to collect and grow some tomatoes in in while they break down.

No tractor is in my future. I would love a skidsteer or even a 30hp kubota loader wiith a little backhoe but money is so tight I can't even dream about one right now! This spring though I think I will be able to convince a friend to let me borrow his kubota for a couple days and go steal that whole pile I was talking about. It has to be 5+ yards of almost-soil.

Also, just to make me jealous, my friend just texted me a picture of where the electric company's line crews just dumped 2 whole truck loads of chips on his property. It's a MOUNTAIN!
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 2292
Location: Southern Illinois
383
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Dan,

I suspect those piles with greens indeed broke down in part because of greens.  Wine Caps probably are not going to like cedar or other conifers.  Generally wine caps prefer hardwood deciduous trees, though they will live fast and die young in strawbales.

I think you had mentioned BLM land.  Does that land include deciduous trees?  If so, those would be the best.  Actually wine caps actually prefer chips that have a little bacterial decomposition going on first.  I am letting my pile sit and age before spreading.  Ideally this would have been done back in January or even December, but circumstances (nonstop rain) force me to wait till the beginning of March.  I would like to start getting started the season by early April, at least some of the early spring crops.  I expect my mushrooms to start popping up by mid April to early May.  In particular I think my bed#2 which was inoculated last year should be a matter of weeks and maybe earlier from pushing up mushrooms.  

I say earlier because that was the first bed I inoculated with the knowledge of growing mushrooms.  Specifically I doubled the volume of spawn I used for just slightly larger garden.  I am also optimistic about bed #3 as that experimental bed seems to have been inoculated with an especially high concentration spawn to chips and is showing some extra fungal activity including mycelial ribbons emerging all over the surface, when I look below there is a lot of white in that section of chips.

I am not exactly certain what to think about bed #1.  It fruited heavily last spring and has had no extra chips since.  I assume that there is still some fungal activity, but it might have to come out of dormancy first.  

Actually bed#1 is kinda interesting.  It is 32 feet long by about 6ish feet wide.  Only 1/2 got inoculated 2 years ago.  The eastern portion was inoculated while the western part was not.  I ran out of spawn so only half got treated.  From the look of things the fungi is spreading west into the untreated section.  In late fall I got a second flush of mushrooms right at the edge between the two sections.  I suppose the fungi is headed west and might well push up mushrooms again this spring.  

In any case I will probably wait till after the first flush of mushrooms before I spread my chips, which would be about 5-6 weeks from now.

Dan, at any rate, I would really look for those deciduous chips and a little bacterial decomposition not only won’t hurt, it would probably help.  I would avoid one with obvious mushrooms growing, but the chips shouldn’t be perfectly pristine either.

Too bad about the tractor though. I could go on and on about tractors.  Even the small ones, including the subcompact models, will do wonders.  I don’t know your exact needs, but in my experience the loader is by far and away the most useful attachment and the backhoe by far the least useful and most expensive implement.  But your needs might well be different from mine.  I owned a subcompact tractor for 13 years and was always amazed by just how much work can be done with such a small machine.  Too many people practically worship horsepower.  I think high horsepower is overrated.  I only mention this because I too was in the position of needing a tractor and not being able to afford a larger one.  I wish you luck in that endeavor.

Please keep us updated on your progress,

Eric
 
Posts: 582
Location: Northern Maine, USA (zone 3b-4a)
50
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
i got my 05' mahindra 3 yrs ago for $6000. its only a 22hp diesel and is a valued tool on the farm and in winter for snow removal. it gets it done! its great to move mulch, soil and clean the chic coop. before that i was shoveling in then shoveling out everything by hand. takes 5 min. to turn my huge pile of compost. if you can afford/ find a good  used one i highly recommend it! got lucky with this one as it was a widow selling it just to get rid of it. others this age and hrs. on it go for close to $10,000. i know. i looked for many years.
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 2292
Location: Southern Illinois
383
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Steve,

I can completely agree that your Mahindra is a very capable machine.  22hp does not sound like very much hp, but anyone criticizing such a machine doesn’t know how incredibly useful such a tractor is.  My 1st tractor, a JD2305, had 24/18HP at the PTO, but wow, could that tractor ever get stuff done!  The loader alone is just incredibly useful.  I would say handy, but I think that word trivializes just how much work can get done with these little machines.

I could dedicate an entire thread to the outsized tasks that tractor could do, but I think the task that stands out the most was pulling out 20-25 12-18” logs from fallen trees in my woods.  It just seemed to never stop.  And with regards to chipping. That little tractor easily pulled a gigantic 12 inch chipper this weekend.  I will end up using my new JD2038R to move chips around.  As far as attachments go, I of course have a loader & bucket, clamp on forks, a 6’ bush hog and a 7’ grader blade, mostly used for moving snow.  I would like to plan on getting a flail mower.  I don’t know if I can justify it, but I would also be interested in getting a skidding winch.  But this last one might just be a pipe dream.  At any rate, even the smallest tractor can do far more work than the strongest person.

Eric
 
Dan Fish
Posts: 30
Location: Sierra Nevada Foothills, Zone 8b
4
forest garden trees wood heat
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
No more tractor talk! it's making my baby-blues turn green...  

Hahaha just joking. Back to the wood chips.

So although I am in agreement that hardwood chips are what we want for doing this (especially if you are growing "eater" mushrooms) in limited experience the piles that consist of all kinds of wood chips (oak and cedar and pine and madrone and manzanita and...) seem to fill up with mycellium and break down just as fast. Of course the caveat with this will always be that I have no clue the exact mix or list of the species present.

I also know that a pile of pure grey pine chips I had never really broke down. After being piled for 10 months and kept continuously wet the chips looked just like the day they were dumped. I spread then out after that and the mud ate 'em. I only tried those because a guy on Craigslist had a massive pile and a TRACTOR to load 'em.

This fall when my arm gets better I will follow you exact methods, Eric, and hopefully be able to also do a separate pile with some of these random chips as well. Do some 'spearamintin'!
 
Jay Angler
gardener
Posts: 2039
Location: Pacific Wet Coast
724
duck books chicken cooking food preservation ungarbage
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Dan Fish wrote:

I also know that a pile of pure grey pine chips I had never really broke down. After being piled for 10 months and kept continuously wet the chips looked just like the day they were dumped.

We have a spot where we tend to dump cedar chips, because they take longer to decompose and although we don't worry about a few around our growies because we are surrounded by big cedars, we figure our growies will be happier with alternatives. But we have a "path" up a hill in our back field that turns into a mud-hole in the winter but that we have to use anyway. I've been dumping cedar chips on it for years and they decompose/get pushed into the mud/get grass growing over them just fine. It just takes a little longer, and in that location, longer is better. So I'm happy to have mixed chips, even happier if there's something green mixed in to get it to heat up a little, but I'll take any chips that come from non-sprayed land which is mostly what we get locally anyway, and if I want it to decompose faster, I'll mix veggie scraps in, use it as a burial mound, rotate it through our duck shelter, or frequently, all of the above!
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 2292
Location: Southern Illinois
383
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Dan,

I can totally believe that your specific area has the specific fungi to break down your specific species of wood.  And, really, if all you care about is the decomposed wood then this is a cheap and easy way to do it!

You don’t necessarily have to do what I did step for step, but hopefully this thread can walk you through some of the uncertainty, and if weird things happen, well I will try to help you there as well.

At any rate, good luck ‘shroomin!

Eric
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 2292
Location: Southern Illinois
383
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Jay,

I am curious, since you do a lot of chipping of small material, do you actually own your own chipper?  If so, what type, brand, model, etc.  

I did once look into chippers and it seemed like all the models I could reasonably afford could only chip up a 4” branch and then only with great difficulty.  After that point the chippers seemed to get exponentially larger and more expensive.

There are a couple of chippers and chipper-shredders that could attach to my tractor, but if I were to do this, the tractor would have to remain immobile and I have found that a tractor is immeasurably helpful for doing these tasks.  There is an 8” PTO powered chipper made by Woodmaxx that *MIGHT* fit the bill, but even that size is too small for some of the material I chipped up last weekend.  And even though it is generally well rated and fits my tractor, the price is around $3k.  My bill for the rental chipper was $300 delivered or $250 per day.  

Also, I have a lot of experience with these things breaking down on me on the job.  If it’s is a rental, that’s annoying.  If I own, that’s an expensive repair that I am going to have to fix.  So in the end it is a lot cheaper and fewer headaches to simply rent (though possibly more backaches as I have to do all my chipping all at once during good weather that can be hard to predict).

Anyhow, I am just curious as to how you go about your chipping.  Mine is to do a bunch of trimming a living fence (that is slightly out of control) while you seem to do a lot of smaller chipping.  

Is that about right?

Eric
 
Jay Angler
gardener
Posts: 2039
Location: Pacific Wet Coast
724
duck books chicken cooking food preservation ungarbage
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hubby *loves* to buy tools (borderline an addiction?) and he *hates* to rent (honestly, he too often got the lemon) and he inherited some money when his parents passesd so I figure within reason I can influence the odd purchase. He insisted he wanted a tractor (a Kyoti - I'd guess a bit bigger than the one in your picture) with a back hoe and a post-hole digger. The back-hoe's had some use, but it's a pain to install. We've got too many rocks for the post-hole auger, but he hasn't accepted that yet (there are better ways to sink a post, if you ask some of my farming friends), but the spring after we got the tractor we had a bad windstorm and there were branches down everywhere, and I talked him into a Wallenstien 4" shipper shredder. I'll try to remember to take a photo later. Our tractor is heavy enough that we can still use the loader with the chipper on, but it does make it longer. It's actually important to have some sort of weight at the back if we're doing heavy stuff with the loader because it reduces the risk of tipping (according to the guy who sold it to us who seems genuinely knowledgeable).

The short answer is that anything that's larger than about 3" diameter, we consider firewood. Hubby's got a large "chop saw sort of thing" that I suggested would do a great job of quickly cutting small diameter wood to stove length and he's actually been thrilled how well that works. If the "larger than 3" " wood is punky, I've managed to almost convince him that hugels are the way to keep it from being a fire hazard. We're in a fire risk zone in early fall if our summer drought is long. Getting up all the small branches that cedars and firs tend to shed improves our safety. Also, Hubby's really good a fixing stuff that breaks so long as parts are available - less good at doing so promptly...sigh... Owning the chipper is an unjustifiable luxury, but the Wallenstien lifts up with PTO, it's big enough that in 5 years we haven't broken anything but belts, the non-cedar chips are a life-saver in his chicken/duck business that started out "pastured" (read portable bottomless shelters) but which can't be moved when we have a wet or snowy winter and likewise are useful for gardening before or after being "used" by the ducks, so from the "Jay's sanity" perspective, I'm totally sold despite the ~$4,000 Can. One thing about tools like this is that they tend to hold their value, so it's not so bad in the end. I suspect we've used the chipper more than any other attachment. I'll try to take a picture and get number etc later.
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 2292
Location: Southern Illinois
383
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Jay,

I actually was wondering about the Wallenstien!  From what I hear, they are very nice machines.

My tractor could operate the Wallenstien, and I actually like the shredding option.  Unfortunately toping out at 3-4 inches is the precise reason my back still aches!  When I rent, I go for the 12” model!  It makes for a very long day but it does get the job done.

BTW, I am somewhat allergic to renting, but I cannot justify a reasonable chipper.

Thanks for the input,

Eric
 
Jay Angler
gardener
Posts: 2039
Location: Pacific Wet Coast
724
duck books chicken cooking food preservation ungarbage
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I hear you - the reality here is that I have to pick up all those branches anyway for fire reasons, so I try *really* hard to put them in the trailer we have, and then chip out of the trailer, or into garbage cans for the same reason. Because we have the machine on property, firing it up for a single trailer-load is possible and that saves the back a lot. I'm sure you'd find it even less justifiable to own a Wallenstein and then have to rent one for the really big stuff!
 
There's a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza, a hole in the bucket, dear liza, a tiny ad:
All about the Daily-ish Email!
https://permies.com/wiki/135969/Daily-ish-Email
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!