As you can probably guess from the name of this Blog, I’m a big fan of wood chips. My preferred type is Ramial Wood Chips. The raw material for these chips consists of the leaves, twigs and branches, preferably deciduous, including small limbs up to 7 cm. (23⁄4 in.) in diameter. It is processed into small pieces by running the material through a chipper.
When looking for a source of chips, the more green leave and shoots the better. The leaves will break down quickly, giving your garden a kick of nutrients. Time of year matters, try to get your chips in spring, summer,and early fall when leaves are still on the trees. Any type of tree or shrub will work, but you don’t want a load of all bark or big solid wood chips. Bark works great for flower beds to keep weeds down, but for Vegetable gardens they take too long to break down.
The best sources for chips are:
- Tree trimmers for the local power company. When you see them in your neighborhood, ask them to dump their truck at your place. They are usually happy to do this, it saves them a trip to the land fill.
- Local tree services. You can find them in the phone book, or keep an eye out in your neighborhood.
- Recycling center. If your lucky enough to have a recycling center in your area, where green waste is dropped of, chipped and composted.
A word of caution. When you get someone to dump a load for chips, these piles can be quit large. You may not want it dumped in your drive way, if you have to go to work the next morning. If you have the access, and ground permitting (Chip trucks can be quit heavy) have them dump next to your garden.
Unless you have front end loader, my preferred way to spread chips is to use a pitch fork and wheelbarrow. A pitch fork (see Tools page) is by far the best tool I have found to attack that huge pile of chips. I dump each wheelbarrow load so that each little pile just touches the next, the go back with a rake and smooth the whole garden out. This should give you a covering about four to six inches deep once they break down.