Re: Composting with wood chips



In 1974 the Weyerhaeuser Company leased 24 acres for a rhododendron species collection at the Company's corporate headquarters in Federal Way, Washington. The garden area is called the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden and there are over 10,000 rhododendrons growing in a beautiful woodland setting covering 22 acres. For obvious reasons they had tons of wood chips available, probably mostly Douglas Fir, but in any case a mixture of softwoods. The wood chips were used as planting medium for the rhododendrons.
Today, over 20 years later, the wood chips have turned into a slimmy gunk that started killing the rhododendrons. The Rhododendron Species Foundation has undertaken a project to lift all of the plants and place them on a mixture of sand and gravel so they will have some drainage. This work is rather impressive since many of the plants are huge now. What is most impressive is how shallow the root structure is on the tallest plants.
Wood chips require much nitrogen to decompose. Once they decompose they turn into this slimmy gunk. They need to be mixed with mineral soil and other organic matter. If used in too high a concentration they will eventually become lethal.
The RSF is located at: www.rhodygarden.org
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wrote:

Wood chips make a great mulch or garden path. All this rain has left some muddy areas where wood chips would help keep the feet dry. They take quite some time to compost. I have loads of sawdust-both hardwoods and softwoods (I do extensive woodworking) and it takes at least 10 months for a pile to break down. Adding 34-0-0 speeds it up. The finer the material is chopped up, the faster it will compost.
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will be acid, and will contribute decent amounts of P and K. Because they decay over two years, depending on size, they are better suited as mulch for perennials.

That is what I do, with zucchini, tomatoes, and various brassicas. But I leave them there in the lawn, to prevent disease spread, and in the spring I use the first grass mowing for mulch or compost.
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simy1 wrote:

They'll also be drenched with bar oil if he's maintaining the saw properly.
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John DeBoo wrote:

Wood chip works fine in compost piles. The finer the chip, the faster it will break down. Ditto for plants you pull in the fall. Just weigh the relative work involved in shredding them up vs just letting them go. Personally, I've always gone for just piling everything up and letting it process at it's own speed; I don't even bother to turn the sucker. But, then, I have lots of land and room for several LARGE compost piles. Not everyone has that luxury. If you're looking for the pile to be compost by spring, shredding up the plants will certainly help.
Chris Owens
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Be aware that wood chips will probably change the ph toward more acid. That's especially true with evergreens.

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