best form of mulch

tweety101February 12, 2014

I have been trying to decided what to use as mulch in my garden. I've been considering wood chips. Does anyone have any recommendations?

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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Chips are fine for trees, shrubs, and pathways.
But not for flowers or veggies

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 2:03PM
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I've used shredded mulch around flowers and veggies, never had a problem, but then I will add nitrogen from time to time.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 2:09PM
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The term wood chips covers a wide range of products. Year ago I used chipped wood which I found to be splintery and too coarse for my liking. They were also pale in color and I prefer a brown mulch that blends more with soil color. However those chips eventually decomposed so likely were of some benefit to the soil.

There is also a danger of some wood chips containing unwanted chemicals if the source was treated wood.

I prefer shredded bark and was so pleased a few years ago to find a source for this from a local log home builder. Their logs are peeled by machine and the end result is fairly finely shredded bark with a few long thin pieces of bark which are easy to bury in the mulch.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 3:55PM
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My original veggie bed (chilis, okra, eggplant and tomato) had a 6-inch deep mulch of shredded branches and leaves from a palo verde that fell over.

There was no problem with nitrogen deficiency.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 9:44PM
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You will find people all over the board on this, "wood chips should never be used as mulch on anything other then trees and shrubs" to "You can use wood chips as mulch anywhere"
Dr. Alex Shigo found that trees and shrubs preferred to grow in soils that tended to be fungi dominated and that wood chip mulches promoted that environment and that vegetables and flowers preferred to grow in soils that were bacteria dominant and wood chip mulches discouraged that environment.
I have used wood chips, shredded bark, shredded leaves, straw, etc. as mulches on my perennial beds over the years and have not seen enough difference to shake a stick at. I do not use wood chips as mulches on my annual beds since I do not want to bury them in the soil where they would become a soil amendment and not a mulch as I dig around (yes, till) while planting.
Wood chips used as a mulch, laid on top of soil, will not cause a Nitrogen deficiency, it is when those same wood chips are dug into the soil, a soil amendment now not a mulch, will cause a Nitrogen deficiency.
For planting beds where annuals are to be grown, vegetables mostly, I prefer mulches such as shredded leaves, straw, etc. but not wood chips because of the potential that some of this mulch could be tilled into the soil as I plant and replant and experience tells me that the leaves and straw tend to be less of a problem for N deficiency then wood chips.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 6:28AM
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