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A garden is only as good as the ground that it's planted in. Discussion forum for the many ways to improve the soil where we plant our gardens.

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Old August 17, 2014   #46
madddawg
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I was putting down layers of newspaper but it was taking too long and not to mention it was a back killer. Until I had a brainstorm! I went to the local newspaper and got some butt end of rolls for $5 a piece, bought 6.


I unroll about 2 or 3 layers



Then cover with just a light layer of chips,Just enough to cover the paper.



Very few weeds got though that. And the time I save now is priceless, And my back likes it too!
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Old August 17, 2014   #47
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Drew, I can only tell you what my experience is with pine or cedar bark mulch vs ramial wood chips. I have used cedar or pine bark mulch in the same area for 7 of the last 8 years. I always wondered why the soil never seemed very moist and there was little evidence that earthworms were interested in inhabiting the area, even after heavy rain. I was adding small amounts of compost (most is dedicated to the vegetable beds) every year and I wasn't making any progress in noticeably improving the soil. No nice crumbly top layer not much in the way of earthworm castings, nothing. Dry dusty soil underneath 2 inches of pine bark mulch. I kind of felt like a failure. Last year I used the ramial wood chips and the soil is much different this year. Nice crumbles on top and lots of evidence of earth worms. I'm not willing to attribute this 100% to the wood chips but I think they have made a substantial difference in the moisture that is retained in the soil over the bark mulch.

Just my experience.

Glenn
I only use the pine mulch for my blueberries, and I really have not had that problem. I do hand water though. It must be kept very moist, and so far so good. I'm not seeing the water I pour into the mulch doing anything but draining down past it. It may not keep it that moist, but hard wood bark, or wood chips are out of the question for blueberries. It makes too much compost that is neutral. If my soil was naturally acidic, it probably could be used. It is not. I have to work hard to keep the PH low.
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Old August 17, 2014   #48
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Some good articles, and I think wood is fine to use. But in the end it turns to compost, compost is compost. However you obtain it.
I use raised beds and much of the soil is pine bark. I also layered the bottom with hard wood (green and dry). I have ton's of worms, I add compost to the top each year, and for 4 years all is very well. Not that long, but I'm not changing a thing. I mostly use pine straw for mulch, as mentioned above pine bark for blueberries. If I can get wood chips I will but so far no luck. I can get pine straw for free. Compost is fairly cheap IMHO, so I spend maybe $30.00/year for it. I switch up compost, use all types, and buy from many places just to keep it diverse. Some mentioned how the soil looked poor at the end of the year. Mine never does. I keep adding to it, but I bet I could go for a few years with adding nothing, it's super rich. Mine looks the same, unused at the end of the year. When planting bean, melon and other seeds, plenty of worms. Even before any new spring amendments.

Last edited by drew51; August 17, 2014 at 09:17 PM.
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Old August 19, 2014   #49
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Here is another article on wood chips I found today:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/97216016/Chipped-Wood

Got another 20 cu.yd of wood chips yesterday (unfortunately it is all fir and spruce, but with lots of green needles).
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Old August 24, 2014   #50
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This year we had all tomato beds mulched with 3-4" of wood chips.

Harvesting lots of fruit by now, we noticed that all tomatoes that are growing under wood chips are so juicy. They never have been so juicy in our garden! And the most interesting thing is that we have not watered them since early July. And as they are under cover, they do not get any rain water either.

The wood chips must have been helping the soil to retain so much water!

And all tomatoes taste great. Nothing is mild tasting this year. I wonder why - what's about the wood chips that also improves the taste??? Weird.

Checked beets today. These were never watered or fertilized since transplanting back in early June. They are nice and large!

Kale is unusually huge and so juicy. Even the stems of the bottom leaves are as thick as my thumb, and these are sweet and juicy - both Stan and I munch on these thick stems every time we happen to be close to the kale patch. The Dwarf Siberian kale has bottom leaves that are as long as my arms. It is so huge .

Parsley taste is also quite unusual with the wood chips. Very strong taste, so we do not need to use too much of it to get lots of flavor.

Winter radish sprouted nicely in the beds where lettuce was, so we moved wood chips back around the sprouts, and this keeps the soil nice and moist.

I like it.

Tatiana
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Old August 24, 2014   #51
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This is how the soil looks like under the wood chips mulch, nice dark moist and rich. Worms are abundant.

Note that we hardly got any rain this summer. And we did not irrigate.

The first pic shows the wood chips mulch. It is actually pretty dry.
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Old August 24, 2014   #52
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Here is another article on wood chips I found today:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/97216016/Chipped-Wood

Got another 20 cu.yd of wood chips yesterday (unfortunately it is all fir and spruce, but with lots of green needles).
I started chipping and shredding a brush pile today. Mostly hard wood branches. Unfortunately, couldn't get the chipper restarted after it was shut down. Will keep trying. I will have enough oak, hickory and other hard woods to keep me busy for a long, long time.
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Old August 24, 2014   #53
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This is how the soil looks like under the wood chips mulch, nice dark moist and rich. Worms are abundant.

Note that we hardly got any rain this summer. And we did not irrigate.

The first pic shows the wood chips mulch. It is actually pretty dry.
That's what I'm finding all over my property under pine straw and leaves. The biggest and fastest earthworms I've ever seen reside between the natural mulch and the dirt. Probably at least a couple of inches of vermicompost everywhere I look!
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Old August 24, 2014   #54
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Save some of that for smoking meat!!


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I started chipping and shredding a brush pile today. Mostly hard wood branches. Unfortunately, couldn't get the chipper restarted after it was shut down. Will keep trying. I will have enough oak, hickory and other hard woods to keep me busy for a long, long time.
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Old August 24, 2014   #55
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Save some of that for smoking meat!!
Yes

We use cherry or alder when smoking fish. It is so good!
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Old August 24, 2014   #56
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Originally Posted by Tania View Post
This year we had all tomato beds mulched with 3-4" of wood chips.

Harvesting lots of fruit by now, we noticed that all tomatoes that are growing under wood chips are so juicy. They never have been so juicy in our garden! And the most interesting thing is that we have not watered them since early July. And as they are under cover, they do not get any rain water either.

The wood chips must have been helping the soil to retain so much water!

And all tomatoes taste great. Nothing is mild tasting this year. I wonder why - what's about the wood chips that also improves the taste??? Weird.

Checked beets today. These were never watered or fertilized since transplanting back in early June. They are nice and large!

Kale is unusually huge and so juicy. Even the stems of the bottom leaves are as thick as my thumb, and these are sweet and juicy - both Stan and I munch on these thick stems every time we happen to be close to the kale patch. The Dwarf Siberian kale has bottom leaves that are as long as my arms. It is so huge .

Parsley taste is also quite unusual with the wood chips. Very strong taste, so we do not need to use too much of it to get lots of flavor.

Winter radish sprouted nicely in the beds where lettuce was, so we moved wood chips back around the sprouts, and this keeps the soil nice and moist.

I like it.

Tatiana
Interesting observations! I have very sandy soil so hoping that wood chips can help drying out and prevent nematodes. Added flavor is quite a bonus!
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Old August 24, 2014   #57
Tracydr
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Yes

We use cherry or alder when smoking fish. It is so good!
Love smoked fish! I just bought a little smoker and I've been using only wood, no charcoal. Picking all the small sticks that I can find, mostly hickory and oak, some crepe mrytle and unidentified.
The variations in lichens and fungi is stunning! I found an indigo blue one and bright orange today while chipping?
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Old August 25, 2014   #58
COMPOSTER
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tania View Post
This year we had all tomato beds mulched with 3-4" of wood chips.

Harvesting lots of fruit by now, we noticed that all tomatoes that are growing under wood chips are so juicy. They never have been so juicy in our garden! And the most interesting thing is that we have not watered them since early July. And as they are under cover, they do not get any rain water either.

The wood chips must have been helping the soil to retain so much water!

And all tomatoes taste great. Nothing is mild tasting this year. I wonder why - what's about the wood chips that also improves the taste??? Weird.

Checked beets today. These were never watered or fertilized since transplanting back in early June. They are nice and large!

Kale is unusually huge and so juicy. Even the stems of the bottom leaves are as thick as my thumb, and these are sweet and juicy - both Stan and I munch on these thick stems every time we happen to be close to the kale patch. The Dwarf Siberian kale has bottom leaves that are as long as my arms. It is so huge .

Parsley taste is also quite unusual with the wood chips. Very strong taste, so we do not need to use too much of it to get lots of flavor.

Winter radish sprouted nicely in the beds where lettuce was, so we moved wood chips back around the sprouts, and this keeps the soil nice and moist.

I like it.

Tatiana
Tatiana,

I'm thrilled you are doing well with this method. I was excited about the wood chips before you started this thread and am even more excited when you share your actual experiences. It's one thing to read about it in an article or see it in a film and a totally different thing when you are corresponding with somebody that is actually having success with it.

According to "Back to Eden" it is the minerals from the wood chips breaking down that are improving the taste of your crops.

Glenn

Last edited by COMPOSTER; August 25, 2014 at 10:15 AM. Reason: spelling of course
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Old August 27, 2014   #59
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This might be of interest here. Posted today by Andrew McGuire. Is focused on farm scale though.

http://www.biofortified.org/2014/08/...improve-soils/
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Old August 28, 2014   #60
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Thank you Chris! Very interesting article.

Tatiana
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