Using Fresh Wood Chips as Mulch Around Vegetables
Hi, I just received a few cubic yards of fresh wood chips from a tree service, our local hydro company. It is mostly hemlock with some cedar. My hopes are to use this as mulch around my vegetables, fruit trees, and shrubs. To my dismay there are also a lot of green needles mixed in with the chips. I'm worried that this acidic mulch will steal nitrogen from the soil around my vegetables and fruit trees, harming their growth.
I plan on putting a thin layer of shredded newspapers down first, with 2-4" of chips on top. Will the newspaper layer protect the soil from nitrogen theft by the chips, allowing them to compost safely over the year? If not, can I sprinkle lime over the chips (or between the chips and the newspaper) to compensate for the acidity? Or are these fresh chips just too nitrogen-hungry for vegetables and fruit trees, such that I should give them a year or two to compost elsewhere first?
I also have some straw, in case anyone thinks that that's a better layer between the soil and the fresh wood chips.
My soil, by the way, is sandy and could use the organics from these chips, so I'm hoping that after using them as mulch this year I can turn part of it into the soil next year, and more the following year.
Thanks for your advice,
...Terry in Eastern Ontario