Using Wood Chips in the Garden


Pile Of Wood Chips

Last spring, I spent hours digging raised beds in an 80-by-130-foot community garden plot. The weeds were fierce, and although the walking paths were nice, they became overrun by the overzealous grasses of the northern Midwest. Oh, and don’t forget the mud puddles from the above-average rainfall last spring.

There are obvious benefits to the raised garden bed method, but my experience last spring made me wonder about other methods I could incorporate into my own home garden this year, back in Kansas after living in Thailand and then a stint in Fargo, North Dakota.

A gardening community group on Facebook, Wichita Black Growers, is where I was reintroduced to the wood chip mulch method. A post from the administrator of the group included some photos and the multitude of benefits he and his family were reaping from using the wood chips.

Cost savings sparked my interest. Although I knew adding wood chips to a garden could provide nutrients, I learned a great deal more about what these wood chips can do over time. Wood chips can allow you to:

Save on your water bill. Wood chips will slow the process of water evaporation and prevent the loss of water from the soil.

6/24/2020 5:11:00 PM

In my part of NSW Australia I use whatever is available and can go through my PTO woodchipper. While the chipper capacity is 6 inches, I have it hooked up to a 35hp tractor so it struggles at 4 inch branches. A 60hp tractor would have plenty of power. Anything over 3" diameter I leave aside for firewood for my slow combustion kitchen wood stove and longeroom wood heater. While it is recommended to burn only hardwoods in these appliances, I use what I have - it just means topping up the firebox more often. I use the hardwood during the coldest winter times due to the higher temperatures generated when it burns. I have chipped all sorts of species: invasive introduced trees like camphor laurels and privets, native softwoods like wattles (acacias), she-oaks (casuarinas) and hardwoods including paperbarks (melaleucas) and gum trees (eucalypts). All material is collected from windfalls, judicious pruning to allow slashing of paddocks beside the treeline or vehicle access along laneways and removal of the weed species. I was concerned about the woodchip removing nitrogen from the soil as it broke down so initially I put high nitrogen fertilisers like blood and bone or chook manure under the woodchip. Now, because I have piles of aged woodchip up to two years old, I don't bother with the additives. The woodchip is breaking down naturally with plenty of microbes doing their thing. Now the mulch is much more balanced and works great for all the reasons outlined in the article.

4/28/2020 7:17:47 AM

Wood chips do take nitrogen from your soil. they break down slowly. Everything that decomposes requires a carbon nitrogen ratio. Wood chips are very high in carbon. If you plant intensively there is little or no room for weeds. you will have to weed once, but if you weed at strategic times the plants you are growing take up all the sunlight creating a living mulch. If you don't use your bed space well the weeds will teach you how. Radical Regenerative Gardening and Farming.

Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

50 Years of Money-Saving Tips!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS for 50 years and counting, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters