Chipped wood in garden?

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by Beeman, Nov 26, 2005.

  1. Beeman

    Beeman Well-Known Member

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    Has anyone put large quantities of chipped wood in their garden for organic matter? I can get truckloads from a tree service and I'm considering getting a couple of loads.
     
  2. marvella

    marvella Well-Known Member

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    yep, i've done it.

    don't.

    seems i learn to do everything the hard way. you must compost them first. as green wood they burn the plants.
     

  3. Nan

    Nan Well-Known Member

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    Wood, before it is composted, needs nitrogen to break it down. If you compost it first then it should be fine. If you were to put it on before that...you will need to add nitrogen to the soil so that it won't all be used up by the shavings being broken down. You have time to compost them though.....before next spring. Ask Paquebot!
     
  4. Definitely don't do it!! I done that a few years ago and I still can not grow things very good in the section of my garden that I mulched with. I guess there was too much tanic acid leached into the ground. Since then everything I plant in that area is dwarfed. I need to send off soil samples to see what I need to do to get it back to growing things good.
     
  5. Michael83705

    Michael83705 Well-Known Member

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    Another don't- and don't try to compost unless you have enough of a source of Nitrogen. That would be Lots and lots of green matter.

    Also, I chip my own Apple tree trimmings etc, but they aren't sprayed or anything. Trees with needles will have to much acidity and Black Walnuts will raise havoc with Juglone. I would never get it unless I knew the source.

    Read up on composting if you would like to start trying this and start small :)
     
  6. BeckyW

    BeckyW Well-Known Member

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    We had lots of citrus trees near the house in southern California and used bark chips everywhere except inside the drip line of the trees. We piled the bark chips 12-18 inches deep and were used as a low-tech filter system on a greywater system. (This was recommended to us by the ag engineer who designed the system.) Our citrus trees were very happy and weed control was very easy - even with nasty St. Augustine grass out there.

    Ditto the advise already given about not using in the garden.

    A friend with her bachelors in orchard management also uses bark chips about a foot deep in the landscape part of her orchard -- 200 ft long driveway that is lined with cherry trees and other fruit trees. She uses it under all her landscaping. (She got a mountain of free wood chips for allowing the county to park their heavy equipment on her land while a large road project was taking place. They were clearing lots of trees and chipped up all except the trunks.)

    So maybe you can find other creative uses for your bark chips.
    BW
     
  7. Beeman

    Beeman Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the replies. I guess I'll just use it as mulch along the driveway as I have in the past. What about using it as mulch in the garden during growing season, I remember reading posts where some used them for the lasgna gardening method.
    Is sawdust the same as wood chips, does it need to be composted first or will rotting in the garden over winter be OK? I know I can probably get loads of sawdust also. Even after years of adding leaves and other matter to this clay soil it is a long way from good. Any suggestions on what to add in large quantities to a 50x100 garden. I've been hauling manure and mulching with hay. I just ground up tobacco stalks to add to it also.
     
  8. Nan

    Nan Well-Known Member

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    I am not sure about this...and don't want to put a damper on anything else...but can't tobacco have a virus that is contagious to tomato plants? Just thought I would throw that little info in there so that you could make sure.

    I know that I have used the bark around my trees before without any problems. As long as it doesn't contain any walnut wood in there...it would be ok to use for that...as long as you add enough nitrogen. Just add manure too maybe? I don't know though...haven't used wood chips...just bark chips...

    I will second the person that says to read up on composting because there are some things that you don't want to add and other things that with time are great sources of organic matter!
     
  9. Paquebot

    Paquebot Well-Known Member

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    By now, any main negative aspect that I may give has already been said by one or another. You are half right in that wood chips are organic matter. But that is all that they are. They are certainly NOT nutrients. Pure wood chips by themselves have a total of about 2.2 pounds of nutrients per ton. (Leaves from those same trees may have more than that in a mere 100 pounds.)

    When composted, along with a lot of nitrogen, wood chips become a fair soil conditioner. If incorporated into the soil while they are still fresh, all available nitrogen is drawn to them in the process of breaking down. In other words, they are a thief stealing what the plants need.

    I would not worry about tobacco stems. They are an excellent organic fertilizer. NPK may be around 3-1-5 or even higher for potassium. There can actually be more than 10 pounds of nutrients in only 100 pounds of stems. That is very high!

    The disease that Nan is worried about is tobacco mosaic virus. There probably hasn't been a documented case of TMV in the Americas in 30-40 years. Last that I heard of it worldwide, I think that Turkey still has some. Otherwise it's almost an urban myth. If any tobacco field in the US has even one plant that may show TMV, that field is history. So, I'd accept tobacco stems without a moment of hesitation.

    Martin
     
  10. Beeman

    Beeman Well-Known Member

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    I'm trying to improve the structure of my soil (clay that doesn't drain well) as much as add nutrition. I heavily mulched this year with hay and have already hauled in 6 truckloads of horse manure with straw bedding. In the past I have done this and the soil is getting better but is far from good.
    I ground up 2 truckloads of tobacco stalks and I'm probably going to do at least 2 more. In past years I have used all of my leaves which is a lot plus countless truckoads from town.
    Would adding ammonia to the soil with wood chips give the necessary nitrogen?
     
  11. Paquebot

    Paquebot Well-Known Member

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    With the addition of the horse manure, you already have the complete formula if you were composting it! Since it is stable manure, the straw is soaked with urea. I'd mix the manure with the wood chips and let it work over the winter. The wood will quickly absorb the excess nitrogen in the horse manure. Adding the ground tobacco stalks will only make it better. By April or May, you'd be able to plant into that mix with no problem. I wish that I had that mix available. I can get the horse manure and wood chips but no tobacco farmer will part with his stalks around here!

    And added note is that you'd like to do it now and have it ready for spring planting. That's exactly what I would advocate if it's possible from a weather aspect. You don't have to compost it since it won't be used for another 4 or 5 months. Spread it now and plow it under. Then plow it again in the spring. Spring plowing would not be needed if the ingredients were there just for the plants to feed on. But since it's a soil texture problem, a second tilling would be needed to further break up and distribute the organic matter throughout the clay and v.v.

    That's exactly what we are doing with the local community gardens. For 5 years, it seems that nobody really knew what they were doing other than planting. By the time I was involved, the soil appeared to have very little organic matter in it. Complex seemed about equally divided between clay and prairie silt, one almost as bad as the other! This spring, we had tons of wood chips brought in for gardeners to use in the aisles. Being from the spring brush collection, there was very little green material in it. If used for mulch, I instructed everyone to use only enough to where one were stepping on both wood and soil. Otherwise, I fear some would have had 6" of chips. Several did use chips 2" deep or more throughout their plots for weed prevention. Both gardeners also brought grass clippings all summer until that was also several inches thick by fall. They are now plowed under and theory says that there should be no nitrogen problem next spring. Now we have 3 times as much wood chips in reserve but from October shredding. My instructions will still be the same, mulch and aisles only.

    Martin
     
  12. Nan

    Nan Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Martin! I knew you would know! That is great to know about the mosaic virus! I threw that in there because I didn't know...but had heard...of course...I am 44 and so since I have been gardening and playing in the dirt since I planted acorn squash seeds in my mother's flower beds when I was 5.....then it probably hasn't been much of a problem in my lifetime! LOL! Oh...never did stop playing in the dirt....still can't keep out of it! ;) Oh....did you notice that your aka is in smilie form now...??? :lonergr: :lonergr: Blessings all! Nan P.S. Those acorn squash seeds took over the whole side yard and part of the front yard! Mom didn't know I had swiped the seeds from out of the trash and planted them! She wasn't upset though...we had LOTS of squash that summer!
     
  13. Michael83705

    Michael83705 Well-Known Member

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    Compost and time will do it, but where I live we have tons of lava and the lava fines (the powdery small sand like pile left behind lava rock) work wonders if you can get them.

    Sand will just sink, which is why it is good to raise holes in lawns, because it is round. Lava fines are jagged and will keep working through the top layer and add nutrients as well. It's no accident much fertile ground is around volcanos :)
     
  14. boolandk

    boolandk Well-Known Member

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    We used to have our local town deliver many truckloads of wood chips that we used for bedding for our beef cattle. It broke down relatively quickly with the manure and eventually ended up in the garden. Never had any problems using it but didn't use it with being composted with the manure.
     
  15. Pony

    Pony STILL not Alice Supporter

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    The Mighty Boo Boo speaks the truth!

    That's what I use it for. Works great -- except that, once it breaks down, even over garden cloth, volunteer trees, tomato plants, and weeds sprout up. ;)

    Still, it makes a great path filler.

    Pony!