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 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.
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.
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.
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.
I was John Pollard aka poorboy but the system is broken so I had to start anew