Mulching Problems

I have been mulching for the past half-dozen years or more but I still don't feel I really know what I'm doing. The mulch I have available is chipper wood in various stages of decay which is provided by my local town.
I am pretty sure I killed off my asparagus bed by applying too thick of a layer of this mulch. Only later did I notice that the mulch had formed a rather particle-board-like dense layer a few inches down.
Yesterday I decided to pull it back away from my thornless blackberries to see what was happening underneath, but I could not really tell if there would have been a problem. Some areas had indeed compacted into impenetrable material but since the blackberry shoots are usually adjacent to previous growth they might have easily found an exit.
Is this the situation with mulch? Every year you need to pull it back and see what is happening underneath?
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On 4/14/2016 11:14 AM, Davej wrote:

Personally I would not mulch with chipped wood. Best to let that mulch get really well composted before putting it on a garden. If you don't get a lot of rain the wood chips can last a very long time without rotting down into a good mulch. Might want to get your next load of chips and pile them somewhere near the gardens and let it rot awhile. Wetting it regularly and stirring the pile occasionally will get it to deteriorate quicker.
George
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On Thursday, April 14, 2016 at 11:40:40 AM UTC-5, George Shirley wrote:

Well, I certainly differentiate between compost and mulch. Mulch is mostly an attempt at weed control and maintaining surface moisture. It does eventually break down and seems to just slowly disappear.
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Davej wrote:

you do have to know your plants and mulch.
some plants will tolerate it just fine. others do not like being covered at all or only a little.
saw dust or more finely ground up stuff can do the layers more often than the coarser and larger chips.
i do not often put wood chips on top of plants but around them.
more often i bury them and mix them in with the clay and they help.
buried down deeper i use them as fill, eventually they rot and turn into humus.
the other aspects to consider are how much rain you get and fungi love to form mats and that can collect or hold water better than just the wood chips alone.
songbird
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On Thursday, April 14, 2016 at 1:29:15 PM UTC-5, songbird wrote:

Yes, I need to remember that the mulch isn't going to block weeds while "magically" allowing the passage of the new shoots from plants that I want to grow. Also a few inches down the wood chip mulch combined with fungi can harden into a relatively solid mass, so this needs to be broken up periodically if any new shoots need to be able to penetrate it.
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Once upon a time on usenet Davej wrote: [snipped]

Indeed. Such a solid mass that it's being used for all sorts of things.
https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21829210-300-mushrooms-are-the-new-styrofoam/
--
Shaun.

"Humans will have advanced a long, long way when religious belief has a cozy
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