When people trim the branches in their yard they usually look at those branches as yard waste. That can be a big mistake if you are an organic gardener. You should strongly consider putting them through a wood chipper and grinding them up into useable mulch form.
Most tree companies are so anxious to get rid of their hard to dispose of wood chips that they will deliver them to you for free. Every wood chipper has different settings on them too, so make sure you get a batch that doesn’t have many large size chunks of wood in it.
Benefits of Adding Wood Chip Mulch to Your Garden
Before I tell you the many benefits of using wood chip mulch there is one important point you must keep in mind. You are putting down a layer of ground cover with the wood chips and not making compost. Never till the wood chips into the soil on a regular basis.
If you add wood chip mulch properly, then your garden will get all of these nice benefits from that warm bed of wood chip mulch:
- One of the main ingredients that make soil rich in a garden is a higher carbon content. Unfortunately, it is the very thing that most organic gardens lack. Wood chips when used as a blanket of mulch in your garden can greatly increase the amount of carbon in your soil. This big increase will take place just a few short months from the time you first apply the wood chips.
- Wood chips are a cheap and easy to apply source to increase many other nutrients in your soil too.
- Using wood chips greatly promotes the fertility of the soil in your garden. Best of all it does it in an inexpensive way that does not require fertilizers or constant watering.
- Wood chip mulch speeds up the occurrence of natural soil processes that nature has done for thousands of years.
- Weeds have more trouble sprouting up through a wood chip base. Less weeding makes your organic garden a lot more fun to have.
- You will attract more earthworms. These creatures help create what is known as vermicompost. This is simply the best type of compost on the planet.
Potential Drawbacks to Using Wood Chips in Your Garden
So you now know the benefits of using wood chips in your garden but if you look at the big picture they have some drawbacks too. As is usually the case with gardening, for everything you do to try and enrich your soil there are potential negative consequences.
Here are a few things you have to be careful of if you use wood chips to enhance the soil in your organic garden:
- You stand a good chance of making the fungi content in your soil too high. A little bit is good but plants and vegetables grow better in bacterial rich soil than they do fungi rich soil. Tilling the soil every few years and adding a new layer of wood chip mulch can help reestablish bacterial dominance in the soil in your organic garden.
- Wood chips are so carbon rich they can put the preferred carbon to nitrogen ratio in your soil way above the desired 30 to 1 ratio. Adding composted manure can help bring this ratio back into balance.
- If you are not preparing your wood chip mulch yourself you may not know what type of trees it was made from. Some trees produce toxins that may be harmful to the vegetables and plants you are growing in your garden. I am sure you can see the potential problems with this scenario.
Bet on Wood Chips to Do the Trick When It Comes to Enriching Your Garden Soil
From personal experience, I believe that wood chips will give your soil the important carbon nutrient boost it needs. Keep in mind though that gardening is never a one size fits all solution. Have your soil tested periodically after you apply the wood chip mulch to your garden just to make sure the soil is staying in balance?
Please share this article with your friends that garden so they are aware of the pros and cons of adding mulch to their organic gardens too. Happy gardening!