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 Post subject: Wood Chips
PostPosted: Sat Oct 01, 2011 4:32 am 
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Joined: Tue Jul 07, 2009 2:14 pm
Posts: 549
Location: West Tennessee
Howdy Y'all
Anyone ever use or compost wood chips for a garden area?

We let a tree service use our field as a place to dump their grindings this year.
There's a bit of everything in them pine,cedar,hard & soft woods they were done this summer so there is a lot of leafy material there also

What I am wondering is would it be better to keep them in piles and turn them a couple times a year or spread them out over a future growing area 3-4" thick and lime and disc them in over a couple of years time.
The ground where they would be spread is sandy and drains well.....too well the weeds grow short in that area :lol:
I'm just not sure how fast they would rot down or if thay would be good for a garden area.


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 Post subject: Re: Wood Chips
PostPosted: Sat Oct 01, 2011 6:53 am 
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Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2009 12:17 pm
Posts: 218
Location: West Central MO
yeah, I have a chipper/shredder that I use all the time, for all my tree trimming.
And I have always helped some of my neighbors with their tree trimming. I live in the suburbs, and local ordinances don't allow shrub or debris piles, and the trash services charge extra for lawn waste pickup. And I collect their wood chips if they don't want them for their gardens or ground cover.

I have a compost pile - it's a 8 ft diameter wire fence, and I dump all the lawn clippings and shredded debris in it. Since it is neatly maintained, there has never been any complaints.

Anyway, back to wood chips! It's best if you compost them for about a year, as they suck a lot of nitrogen while they decompose. I have in the past tilled them direct into the soil in the fall, to overwinter, and while they do mostly decompose, I can definitely notice the effect on the following years crop.

If you do till them in to overwinter, definitely till in a nitrogen fertilizer also. I don't do that anymore as it's too difficult to guess how much fertilizer that you need, and it's always either too much or too little for the spring crop.

If you do compost the wood chips - add water as you build the pile, as it will take months to get it from rainfall - they shed water rather than absorb it. I don't rotate my compost like I should. Since I only use compost material every few years, it's easier to just scrape off the stuff on top to get to the good stuff below.

If you're not going to use that garden space for a year - go for it. Or do it for a few years, you'll know when it's ready by how well the weeds grow.


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 Post subject: Re: Wood Chips
PostPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2011 2:54 am 
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Joined: Tue Apr 13, 2010 1:56 am
Posts: 159
Location: South Alabama
Tator,
I have used chips from a sawdust pile (circula 1950's) with good success in potato hills around the 70's. However, new chips could present problems, like LR said. Spreading the chips or keeping them piled over the field might depend on how soon you want to use the field. I do know that wood chips can last a long time piled up.


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 Post subject: Re: Wood Chips
PostPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2011 4:46 am 
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Joined: Thu Apr 30, 2009 9:48 am
Posts: 83
Location: So. Cen. Tn.
We tried a small patch (24x75) using 6-8" as mulch and no-til gardening and we love it.

So far we've tried melons,maters,corn and peppers. All seem to do as good as the tilled version if you get the fertilizer right.

With the weed control and way less watering I could see doing the whole patch that way if we had a source for the mulch (without buying it)

We waited a year after getting it down and had no problems.

-J.C.-


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 Post subject: Re: Wood Chips
PostPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2011 5:47 am 
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Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2009 12:17 pm
Posts: 218
Location: West Central MO
Just want to emphasize this:
If you have clayey, loam or sandy soils, no other additive or amendment to the soils is more beneficial than organic material. And it really doesn’t matter much what the source is. I’ve added pine, walnut, cedar, yew, etc. and with all, the deleterious compounds were abated within a year or so.

The only negative of organic material, is that it may change the pH of the soil. Testing is needed!

I do want to say something about heavy clay soils – lots of people talk of adding sand to try and improve a heavy clay soil. It won’t work! Or it won’t improve the soil until you’ve added enough sand that you now have a sandy soil with a bit of clay. The best way to explain this concept, is to think of your clay soil as concrete or mortar. Concrete is a mixture of cement, sand (& rock) and water. Think of your clay as the cement. Adding a bit more sand to the mix doesn’t change much – you still get concrete. Keep adding sand, and it’s just a weaker concrete, but still concrete. Add enough sand, and, well, you have sand particles coated with cement.


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 Post subject: Re: Wood Chips
PostPosted: Tue Oct 04, 2011 7:12 am 
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Joined: Tue Jul 07, 2009 2:14 pm
Posts: 549
Location: West Tennessee
Thanks y'all
After reading everything I get the feeling it might be a good idea to just let them sit for now and rake em out next spring.
Figure by then the leafy stuff will be rotted down some and could be spread and the larger chunks coule be used for mulch or re-piled to continue doing its thing.

I do need to move one pile because of Murphy's law.
I told the guys to dump then anywhere off to the side of the field and the first load went directly on top of the gate that had not been put up yet :lol:
That was my bad figured hideing it in the weeds would keep the scrap iron collecters from running off with it :roll:

LR i found out the hard way about sand & clay.
It tills up to a powder and sure sets up like concrete with a hard rain :oops:


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