Oops…this was supposed to be up a while back, but it did not post…sorry…tech scheduling error .
I know it’s no longer winter and spring is upon us, but this may give you ideas for next fall.
This is a continuation of my epic garden fail this past spring 2015.
If you read the Eden Gardening – Part 1, the whole sordid story is publicly posted for the world to read, and laugh, or cry – like I did. There is also a nifty film recommending Eden Gardening – a very productive and deeply naturalistic gardening experience that I think you will enjoy….IF you enjoy gardening. Back to Eden Film
Are you ready to do something different this next year – the time to start is now!
Now? it’s near winter for crying out loud! ~ yep it sure is.
It would have been even better if had suggested this in September as the last of your last withering crops were being tilled out of the ground, but that would have made too much sense. I, unfortunately, neglected to layer my garden this past fall – I was still licking my wounds over an epically failed garden. Next year – I’ll supplement my wood chips in the fall.
The BEST part about spreading wood chips is:
No pre-weeding or plowing is required…just pour, spread and ignore.
Love It! 🙂
The reason to start laying your wood chip foundation in the fall or winter is so that it will have time to compost underneath and provide a nice bed for your growing plants next spring. By year spring number two, after you have applied your second layer, the soil below will be a deep brown-black color and very rich in vital nutrients your plants will love!
Where to Find Wood Chips:
Your local city waste management company may be able to direct you to where the tree and brush recycling centers are located. Often you will need to bring your own pick-up truck, and there maybe a cost to obtaining wood-chips.
There are also businesses that will deliver wood chips to your garden location, but most will only dump them in, or near, your garden space. Delivery drivers usually do not spread the chips, so you will probably have to do that yourself or hire someone to spread them for you.
Note: Sawdust is NOT the same as wood chips. The wood chips I am referring to, come from natural roadside gleaning, where the utility companies come in and cut local wood to clean up a street or neighborhood. Using treated wood chips – either pre-sprayed for weed suppression – or treated wood for insect prevention will negatively effect your garden area and possibly introduce contaminates into your garden harvest.
How to Spread the Wood Chips
When your wood chips have been dumped on your garden space, you will need to spread them over your garden area. Spreading wood chips is hard work – sorry, but it is. I suggest the employment a few family, friends and neighborhood kids, well armed with rakes, shovels and wheel barrows.
For a garden foundation spread the wood chips over the garden area at a minimum of 8 inches – deep.
(If you are planning to use as a mulch over settled beds, then 2-4″ would be a better spread.)
The reason for 8 inches is to allow for complete weed suppression and self-heating composting for next spring plantings.
It will take a large truckload of chips to create an 8 ft x 6 ft’ garden space at least 8″- 12″ deep. Most truckloads will cost you 60.00 – 150.oo to deliver, unless your area is giving truckloads of chips away for free. If so, they may deliver the fresh truckload to your garden space, at the end of the day, on their way back to the office.
Raised Bed Eden Garden
If you want your wood chip garden to be uniform or in a raised bed – it is easy. Rake the edges of the chips to your desired height and then surround the garden bed with either raised bedding materials or set edging material around the wood chip area. Then fill your raised, bed-to-be with wood chips. You can also mix in dried leaves as a compost extra.
Caution: avoid Walnut leaves, they inhibit germination
When the wood chips are spread, cover the bed with dark plastic and let it sit through the winter to break down into a nutritive soil.
What Happens to the Wood Chips After they are Spread?
When the thick bed of wood chips has been spread over the garden bed in the late fall and left to sit until spring, the wood chips at the bottom begin to compost. This composting causes heat to develop in the wood chip bed and promotes wood chip disintegration. This composting is a good thing, because nutrients trapped in the plant material, mainly wood chips, are broken down and absorbed by the soil to aid is providing the proper diet the garden will need during the growing season.
Gardening in Wood Chips
The first spring after wood chips are laid down, there may not be sufficient composted wood chips beneath.
The wood chips continue to break down through the growing season and into the next winter, but the first year the composted bed is just beginning to establish itself. You may need to purchase some composted soil to make up the difference sue to a lack of developed compost in you first year gardening bed.
During this first year, the soil surrounding the pre-sprouted plants will provide extra growth medium while the compost bed further establish themselves. Remove the excess potting soil surrounding the plant roots, without leaving them bare, and mix the loose potting soil with the compost in the hole prepared for the plant, then place the plant into the mixed dirt. When the two mediums are mixed like this, the plant roots ‘taste’ the composted soil mixed with the potting soil and accept this new mix as part of its natural growth medium.
Maintaining the Wood Chips
Just as a harvested garden is plowed under and prepared for the next planting season, so too will the wood chip garden need pre-winter maintenance. Before you break a sweat, I assure you that this part is easy compared to the old-fashioned way of maintaining a garden.
Here’s what you won’t be doing: Rototilling, plowing or preparing the ‘soil’.
The step is simple, remove any unwanted plants, (ie: weeds), leave the rest for compost, then spread more wood chips – another 4″ to 6″ – and let it sit for another winter season. You can weed if you want, but it is not necessary. If you choose not to weed then add an extra 3 inches to the wood chip layer to ensure that the weeds get well composted.
By year two, the Spring wood chip compost layer will be rich and dark, basically like fresh new soil.
Maintaining the wood chips is easy. Each year, all you need to do is add another thick layer of wood chips in the fall, (cover them, if they are in a bed), and let them sit. That’s it!
Follow the Restored Roots Gardening Experience, parts 1 and 2:
Remember, if you purchase a soil supplement, such as compost, topsoil or potting soil the first year, your seedlings and seeds will not have so much of the struggles that restoredroots started with. As for slugs, they can be managed with an organic slug bait or with the old-fashioned near-beer in a tuna-can ritual.
I love Eden Gardening, Restored Roots loved Eden Gardening and I think you will too!
May the Storage Be With You,