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
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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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.
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.
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