Implications of mixing mulch/wood chips into soil
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Author:  ju1234 [ Tue Apr 08, 2014 8:46 pm ]
Post subject:  Implications of mixing mulch/wood chips into soil

Hello, I am sure this topic has been discussed here before, however upon doing a search, it did not come up. So, here we go.

I have very heavy clay soil (very sticky) where i live. Last year I did add peat moss and some sand to it but has not seemed to make much difference. I was thinking of adding mulch/ wood chips to the soil to soften it up/ make it less sticky and cloddy. What are the implications of doing so? Does it affect the current year plants (to be planted now) adversely, more or less fertilizer needed, water needs?

The volume of chips I am trying to add is about 25% of the top 9" or so of soil by its present volume (not what it will be after decay). Should I put more or less? Will the big chunks/ shredded pieces of wood cause any impedance to the root growth?

Now, the mulch/ chips that I am getting are from the area's (city's) chipper pile. How ever I was getting the stuff from near the bottom of the pile and it smells like compost. So I think at least the small chips in this stuff are already composted but the big chunks (which is actually more than 50% of it) are not.

thanks for whatever guidance you can provide.

Author:  northwesterner [ Tue Apr 08, 2014 9:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Implications of mixing mulch/wood chips into soil

Here is a recent discussion that might help:

When to aerate summer grass (because aerating the soil and adding organic amendments is going to be a couple of important early steps);

I know I recently saw another question about adding wood chips directly to the soil, but I can't find it now. If you can aerate and add rock powders (lava sand and greensand) and mix in a good quality compost (go pick up those composted wood chips you described), you'll get a quicker and more lasting result than fresh wood chips alone.

Take a look at the Organic Guides and see all of the options as far as good bed preparation.

Author:  user_48634 [ Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:55 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Implications of mixing mulch/wood chips into soil

I wish I knew where these ideas generate from. My fear is that people read about it in "legitimate" magazine articles.

Never bury wood chips under the surface. Wood must be open to the air to decompose. As soon as you bury it, decomposition slows to a glacial pace. An entire tree, inoculated with the proper fungi, will decompose to a powder in 18 months if it is above ground, but if you bury it, it will still be completely intact 20 years later. The problem arises with that soil because the fungi which are trying to decompose the tree are attaching all the nitrogen they can find. That means all the fertilizer you apply will go directly to serving those fungi and, essentially none will go to the plants.

Having said that, applying mulch on top of the soil is one of the best things you can do. It moderates the soil temperature and allows moisture to permeate much more evenly. This creates the perfect environment for the beneficial fungi that your soil needs.

What are you planning to do with the area once the soil is restored? Is it going to be flowers, trees, grass, or what? Knowing what you plan to do will help shorten the path to getting there.

Author:  jp4LSU [ Thu Jul 24, 2014 11:02 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Implications of mixing mulch/wood chips into soil

Hey ju1234,
I am the one that posted about aerating.

Are you trying to tend to the entire yard?

If so, I would highly recommend core/plug aerating the yard. Here is what I did this spring. I'll add a couple of items I wish and wanted to do.

1) Plug aerate ($80/day) Rent it from a stand alone rental place on Saturday and get it for Sunday fro free. I had an acre to do so that's what I did

2) Spread dried Molasses to get into holes. This helps get activity in the soil (Dchall suggested previously to use liquid molasses. I think that's wise and I'll do that next time)

3) Spread lava sand & Texas green sand (amounts can be found in the Library under "sick tree treatment"

Things I wish I had done in addition:
1) Spray clear (not cloudy) shampoo that would help get water into the clay.
2) Spray hydrogen peroxide to get more O2 in the soil.

Getting microbial activity is what is needed. This is done by getting air and water into the soil and then provide some food for the activity to begin.

I'm thinking of doing this possibly twice a year if the budget allows since I'm on an acre.

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