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Growing in decomposing woodchips  RSS feed

 
pollinator
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Location: Southern Illinois
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Hello,

As I have mentioned on other posts, I am fortunate enough to have an abundance of wood chips.  At present, these wood chips have decayed from bright white/blonde to dark brown, have been innoculated with wine cap mushrooms for over 8 months but are still very recognizable as being wood chips and not compost and are about a foot deep.  Last fall, even after having been inoculated with wine cap mushrooms, I only got 4 small mushrooms.

I want to plant in these beds this spring, but I am wondering about how to do so in a bed of partially broken down chips.  Last year I grew tomatoes by making fertile holes filled with bags of manure & topsoil purchased from a local big box store.  The tomatoes grew just fine (so well the deer ate them before I got to them—but that’s another problem) but I would like to eventually grow my soil so to speak and no longer import fertility.  I have 6 healthy comfrey plants for chop&drop and I may dig some up to plant more comfrey.

Back to my main question then is how would I plant say romaine lettuce or radishes in woodchips?  Would I need to make little “fertile trenches?”  Can I direct seed?  Any other thoughts?

I thank you in advance,

Eric
 
master pollinator
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Eric Hanson wrote:  Would I need to make little “fertile trenches?”



I would direct seed into little trenches filled with soil/compost mix and later fertilize the beds with compost tea.
 
Eric Hanson
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Tyler,

I am hoping that after this year I won’t need any more fertile trenches, having some great mushroom compost instead.  But I may take this approach.  

Does anyone know of any crops that would grow well in the wood chips?  Maybe one that sends its roots down deep enough to access the soil beneath?  I am thinking that the major problem I will have in the mulch is the new seedlings drying out on a warm and windy day when I am not around.

For the record, I am also thinking about adding some more spawn to speed up colonization of the chips and will likely take some of Redhawk’s suggestions and ad some bacteria to the pile.

Thanks again,

Eric
 
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I tried onions and garlic in the chips. They grew but they weren’t super happy and made tiny bulbs. Since it’s been a year and I now have broken down chips the plants should do much better. My plan next spring is to sweep the chips aside making a trench and then sweeping them back into place once plants get going. The chips take awhile to get going but they make beautiful soil.
 
master pollinator
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I've had a few volunteer squash thrive in wood chips but the chips were already mostly decomposed.
 
steward
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I don't have any experience growing daikon radish.  I have read that they help break up soil so maybe they would be good in wood chips.  Here are some threads that might help:

https://permies.com/t/7378/soil-building-daikon-radish

https://permies.com/t/42682/daikon-radish-soil-building
 
Eric Hanson
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Anne,

Last year my “chip beds” only grew tomatoes and sweet potatoes (and only fed deer and rabbits!).  This year I want to grow summer squash and beans in my old tomato bed and Romain lettuce and radishes on my sweet potato bed.  I may have to buy in a little bit of topsoil and manure for this but I am cautiously optimistic that this will be my last year I have to buy in fertility for those two particular beds.  

I have at least two other beds I plan to convert to wood chip/mushroom compost beds starting this summer.  All beds will be inoculated with king stropharia mushrooms so we can get a constant suppy of both compost and wine cap mushrooms.

Eric
 
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Maybe scrape/rake all but 3 inches of chips off and use that 3 inches as mulch.

Amend the soil(I presume) under the chips that roots should grow in.

Add lot's of nitrogen and lighter/smaller bulk to the leftover pile of chips to compost it.

Floor for chickens.

Keep bringing it in as new mulch when needed.

Use it in walking paths.

Put it in low spots, go back in a few years and collect black fluffy stuff.

Put it around trees.

Those little chunks of wood can last a long damn time.

If it's a huge area and amount of chips, you could grow whatever kind of legumes will grow there and grow anything that will add nitrogen when turned in. Chickens will turn it in and add more nitrogen. Garbage on the chips for the chickens to go through will help.
 
pollinator
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From my experience all peas, beans and favas can be sown directly into woodchips in the first season, they all do quite well.

Jerusalem artichokes and potatoes were growing for me just fine as well.

Strawberries were fine.

Cucurbits, especially zuchinies, we growing but required additional fertilization during the season.

Poor results for tomatoes unless planted in pockets of a very good compost.

No luck for any brassicas.

Each next year is better though.
 
Eric Hanson
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Richard,

I imagine that any legume would grow well.  Probably help the conversion of chips into garden soil as well.  I may try this just to get some life into the chips.

Eric
 
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