help with vegetable garden rife with sand & wood chips

hi all, i'm going to plant a small vegetable garden in our backyard. Currently an entire section of the back is piled with woodchips and in some spots several inches deep with sand. This was something the previous owners of our home did - probably because of kids and dogs. What measures should i take? I know that getting the woodchips out and potentially relocated is a prerequisite but have wondered about the sand issue. If my garden will not physically be planted in the spots where the sand is, is it still necessary to get rid of it?
Also, since we are in a city (chicago), is it unwise to plant directly into the ground? Am I better off planting in a raised bed filled with topsoil and compost? I should mention that in spite of the woodchips and the sand, the soil is rich and moist.
thanks!
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westridgegarden wrote:

In that case, I would scatter the sand & chips over a wider area, rent a rototiller and till it all in to 6 or 8 inches, plant and enjoy. Unless you are on top of the old city dump!!
Tom J
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Tom J westridgegarden wrote:
hi all, i'm going to plant a small vegetable garden in our backyard. Currently an entire section of the back is piled with woodchips and in some spots several inches deep with sand.
Also, since we are in a city (chicago), is it unwise to plant directly into the ground? Am I better off planting in a raised bed filled with topsoil and compost? I should mention that in spite of the woodchips and the sand, the soil is rich and moist.
In that case, I would scatter the sand & chips over a wider area, rent a rototiller and till it all in to 6 or 8 inches, plant and enjoy. Unless you are on top of the old city dump!!
Tom J
i agree with Tom J i would also scatter the woodchips and sand to wider area and rototill it all in. why get rid of something that i beneficial to your garden. good luck, sockiescat
-- sockiescat
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Some questions I have regarding this approach. How big are the wood chips? How long do you want to wait until you plant a vege garden? What will the woodchips do in the soil whilst decaying?
There is a difference between hunking big bark chips versus small mulched wood. Are the chips treated wood? If the chips are large I would not simply till them into the soil myself without at least mulching them further. If treated, I would not plough them in to the soil at all. If you plan to keep them, I would suggest a long period of composting.
If you plan to plant a vege garden straight away you may need to add extra soil or compost to the area you dig over. Reasons being, wood chip can suck nitrogen from the soil (although it will be replaced when the chip is rotted away) as it breaks down and a thick mulch of chip in the soil may hinder plant growth. Adding extra soil will simply mean less chip per square metre. Adding some organic matter such as compost or even better rotted animal poop will add nitrogen to the soil (as the wood chip temporarily strips it out) as well as extra matter to increase the soil-wood chip ratio. It will also help bind the sand together.
Better still, making a raised garden will, most likely, help solve some of those problems above and provide other benefits as well.
If you plan to put in a garden in a few months then the wood chip decaying in the soil won't make much difference at all. Rotovate and leave.
My thoughts only, given with imperfect knowledge.
rob
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If you have good rich soil you don't need the sand.
Mel & Donnie down in Bluebird Valley In the middle of beautiful down town Yountsville. Managers of the water works. http://community.webtv.net/MelDKelly/doc
http://community.webtv.net/MelDKelly/MelDonniesBluebird
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Mel-Donnie Kelly wrote:

But the sand is already there!! Something has to be done with the sand!! It's not going to hurt the garden to spread the sand and till it in. Beats having someone cart it to the dump. The original post said the soil was rich and moist, so the sand & chips are not going to hurt the soil. Some extra nitrogen may be need the 1st year while the wood chips decay, but a little Miracle Grow will take care of that. :-)
Tom J
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