Decomposed wood chips
At the (organic) community garden, we have loads of woodchips spread about the paths. Every few months we have a work day and we spread more chips. So now, after years of this, we have applied several feet of wood chips onto the paths, chips which have decomposed in place.
A few of us have been raking back the top layers of chips, and sifting the older layers into a wheelbarrow, and thus "harvesting" a fine, crumbly, springy material. It isn't quite humus (not dark enough or fine enough, and it doesn't cling together so much as spring apart when you squeeze it) but it is fairly broken down, presumably still with lots of lignin and cellulose in it.
One gardener used many wheelbarrows of this to amend a plot which he then planted with corn. Although the material is undeniably a great organic addition (our native soil is heavy alkaline clay), I wondered if it really was providing any nitrogen - and I had reservations that he would have the bumper crop of corn that he wanted.
He has, in fact, had a decent crop of very short corn. It is about five feet tall, but each stalk has two big ears. He planted four varieties (different maturity dates) and all four varieties are short.
Anyway, I lasagna garden, and I am wondering how best to use this sort of wood chip compost material. I plan simply to layer it - but my question is this: Should I consider this material to be a sort of "brown" (like the straw I add to my lasagna), or a "green" (like the coffee grounds I add) or neutral? My best guess is that it is still sort of a brown - that since it comes from wood chips, it is limited for nitrogen as it is decomposed. I *think* the short corn in my neighbor's plot might support that.
The compost from my home bin, which has a variety of input material, I generally consider to be balanced in terms of green-ness/brown-ness (or nitrogen content, as you prefer.)
We have tons of the stuff, and I have had occasional bad luck in the past with going too high on nitrogen in my lasagna beds (and my beets not forming decent roots, as a result, for example.) So, should I try to balance the woodchip stuff with lots of coffee grounds, or not?
Thanks for any insight or experience along these lines -