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Old June 29, 2016   #1
Ozark
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Default Oak Chips

Three years ago a big oak tree on our property broke down and we had to have it removed. The tree service ran the branches that were too small for firewood through a chipper and ground down the enormous stump, and I left all those chips in a big pile for a year. Last year I spread the partly-composted oak chips as mulch about 3" deep in the pathways of my vegetable garden.

At the end of last year's growing season I plowed the oak chips into my garden along with some nitrogen fertilizer, and I did that again before I planted anything this spring. I was a little concerned that all that oak tannin would acidify the garden soil so I got a soil test this February that turned out fine - the pH was 6.8.

Now in working my summer garden I see that plowing all those oak chips into the soil was the best thing I could have done. There were a LOT of oak chips added, enough to cover the whole 35' x 50' garden three inches deep the year before. Now I can hardly find any oak at all, and my clay soil is much looser than it used to be.

When I do find an occasional oak chip in the soil, here's what they look like. The few chips that remain are being broken down completely by white root-like fungi that look like they'd be soft, but they're not. These soft-appearing white "roots" are hard and scratchy like the bristles of a stiff nylon brush. I bet by the end of this warm season I won't be able to find any oak in my soil at all.

If you ever have a chance to add oak chips to your garden soil this way, I think it's a real good thing to do!

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Old June 30, 2016   #2
kchd..
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There is a saw mill a couple of miles from me that makes hardwood mats for timber companies. They always have tons of wood chips. Last September, we were lucky enough to get 2 trailer loads of chips, which we deep stacked for use around the newly constructed house. This spring and summer, I've been using the chips for mulch in the gardens and to line the paths and between my raised beds. I don't plan on tilling any into the soil, but I have been happy with their use as mulch and walkway material.
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Old June 30, 2016   #3
Worth1
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We had a sawmill across the road from us and it used to be on our place so we had a huge sawdust pile.

Every year I would take the one ton truck with cattle racks on it and back into the big sawdust mountain across the road and fill it completely up.
Then spread all of that on our gardens and run a tractor all over it to till it in.
We didn't soil test or anything but we had fantastic garden.
My wild pepper plant I have had for years is growing where I piled up a bunch of wood chips.
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Old June 30, 2016   #4
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I am on break - cooling off after moving loads of oak leaves and twigs into the garden. I've been mulch mowing and tilling them in starting back in 2011.

This year is different though. I'm doing this process before solarizing because of RKN in the soil. I know it's not oak chips (I wish I had some).
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Old June 30, 2016   #5
Ozark
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RKN??
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Old July 1, 2016   #6
Worth1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ozark View Post
RKN??
Root Knot Nematodes.

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Old July 1, 2016   #7
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Yes, Root Knot Nematodes. RKN. There are many in-depth links but this one is short and helpful http://www.klru.org/ctg/resource/root-knot-nematodes/ I've already purchased 5 pounds of Elbon Cereal Rye to plant this fall.

The six years I've been tilling in oak leaves and twigs has not changed the PH level in our garden. It's 6.7. If I had a shredder, I would use smaller shredded oak branches too. Check this link out - it's more scientific but explains why oak products are good for a garden. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4429656/ The way I break this down is the oak roots take up macro and micronutrients from deep in the soil and redeposit them in the leaves and tree itself. Incorporating those oak products into the garden is not only feeding the soil organically, but it's supplying macro and micronutrients.
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