woodchips for mulch

treenutt(8)December 13, 2013

I am planning on purchasing a wood chipper for my farm within the next year. I have heard different theories about when to use chips from green vegetation for mulch. Whats the difference between purchasing mulch out of the big piles that are "steaming" from the landscaping yards?

Any thoughts?
Thanks treenutt

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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

How will you get such pretty colors if you do your own?

    Bookmark   December 13, 2013 at 11:42AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

Whats the difference between purchasing mulch out of the big piles that are "steaming" from the landscaping yards?

===>>> compost steams...

wood chips should not.. for the most part ... depending on how many green leaves are chipped ...

compost is a soil amendment .. fully broken down ...

woodchips are a surface treatment... w/o decomposition .... so it shouldnt steam ....

unless you are going BIG ... i would do a lot of research on buying a woodchipper....

i had one.. the feed.. at the top ... was something like 8 inches... i think.. wow ...

EXCEPT ... down near the blades ... is was 3 or 4 inches...

so i had to strip EVERY SINGLE BRANCH to a straight stick ... by which time... it became.. basically.. useless... as there simply arent that many straight branches on a tree ... etc ...

now.. if you are thinking about one of those of the size the tree monkeys drag behind their truck ... now.. that is something i dream about ...

ken

ps: you can buy the colors ... at amleo ... lol.. see link ...

Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   December 13, 2013 at 12:22PM
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smivies

1. 'green' wood chips tend to be nitrogen scavengers....aged wood chips do a slow nitrogen release.
2. fresh wood chips with lots of green material can get awfully hot when composting themselves in big piles.

If you're just planning on using the chips as a 3-4" (max) deep mulch ring (~6') around trees than I wouldn't worry too much. If you're spreading it 3-4" deep over a wider area for perennial and shrub borders than you may get into nitrogen deficiency issues and/or smothering (composting starving roots of oxygen).

    Bookmark   December 13, 2013 at 2:25PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Actually fresh chips and other debris fertilize the soil beneath as they start to decompose - if you pile fresh chips on paving or other impermeable surface a sort of beer eventually appears as decay products come out of the pile.

I once heeled a nutrient deficient rhododendron with telltale poor leaf color into a hot pile of chips, was slow to get back to the plant and the pile.

Placement in the pile caused it to green up nicely.

In the woods fallen trees and branches, all other plant debris falls onto the ground, where it is processed by the soil system. Nobody puts it in compost bins beforehand.

The main problem with fresh material coming from arborists is that any foliage present is prone to becoming very moldy. This happens within days of accumulation, and is a respiratory hazard - same as with moldy hay etc.

My favorite mulch is cedar (Thuja plicata) play chips. Smells good and is slow to break down, has no foliage or garbage in it. Supports the feet nicely, preventing compaction of beds. Is, however prone to migrating sideways onto stems of small plants - you want to keep it away from anything that can be smothered. Leaving a significant space between mulches and the stems of plants is a good general policy anyway. The new, small roots that benefit the most form mulching are out on the fringe of the root system, so you don't need to mulch in close around the bases of plants except where you are trying to provide winter protection - in which case you might be using a looser, temporary material like hay or oak leaves, that is removed in spring anyway.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2013 at 3:09PM
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j0nd03

Colored mulch can provide great contrast. Let the haters hate!

    Bookmark   December 13, 2013 at 5:11PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

re steaming mulch piles

The "steam" may appear during cold weather from mulch piles after the mulch piles are disturbed and heat, trapped under the mulch, is released. I'm not sure if this is what Treenutt saw, but that's common with woodchip piles.

j0nd03,

Just think of how pretty that would be with some of that nice yellow mulch! Even the blue would probably provide sufficient contrast. (-;

    Bookmark   December 13, 2013 at 6:31PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i do hate it ... jon ... lol ...

anyway... my point was the finished product ...

if you hope to end up.. with what comes out of a steaming pile [man there are so many bad jokes in that .. lol] ....

then you need to build a compost pile.. and if using wood .. then add copious amounts of 49-0-0 and water... to get it steaming down.. turning it into what we call BLACK GOLD ...

and in 2 to 3 years... depending where you live [e.g. if the pile freezes solid in winter ....] ... then you will end up with compost.. very.. very!!! .. VERY GOOD compost ...

but if you want wood chips... which you title refers to ... then you chip your brains out.. and let it sit for half a season.. so the leaves will compost down.. but the chips remain ...

all of this.. has nothing to do with the machine you are thinking about ... in the first instance ....

so the first thing you must do.. is clarify the words and concepts .. so you can precisely define your goal..

which will then lead you down the path to what machine will do what you want...

ken

Here is a link that might be useful: see that guy in the ninth pic .. who has branches that look like that ... it would take 5 to 10 mintues of pruning a normal branch.. to end up with something you could feed in ... in volume... its a nightmare .... now.. if you are talking about a commercial chipper.. like the ones in the top banner.. i am jealous ....

    Bookmark   December 13, 2013 at 6:35PM
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poaky1

I have previously collected fall leaves and pine needles, for mulch under some plants, for the last couple years. I needed to purchase a wood chipper min 2012 -2013 winter. I have recently had to resort to needing fuel assistance from Courtesy oil in Dunbar, Pa. I am hoping I can get fuel assistance from them.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2013 at 11:03PM
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ishcountrygal

Like bboy, I've heeled in plants in wood chips; the piles were some weeks old. The plants thrived, especially conifer seedlings.

Our chipper-shredder makes fine chips which break down fairly rapidly. We had an old Troy-Bilt chipper-shredder for which we could no longer find parts, so, after research, we replaced it with a MacKissic 12PT Shredder-Chipper. It's turned out to be a mighty little machine for us.

We put downed branches (mostly alder) up to 3 1/2" diameter, fruit tree prunings and tree sapplings through the chipper chute. And of course the christmas tree. We use the shredder chute for thimble berry bushes (invading our community ditch) and Himalayan blackberry bushes (invading from neighboring abandoned horse pastures). But it seems like magic how easily a monstrous large pile of branches can be turned into a tidy pile of chips!

In my zone 8 damp climate, I do not need add anything to the chip pile for it to break down in a few month's time. It may not yet be the pure black gold that Ken suggests, but it feels and smells pretty nice.

I adore having the chippings. I use it for mulch for trees and shrubs, and use aged chips as an ingredient in soil mixes for pots.

A neighbor, on the other hand, purchased a used commercial chipper a few years ago and he and his help grind up whole trees. It's the only machine he uses that I can hear running through considerable distance and his woods! I think it runs off the PTO on his tractor. He uses the chipper when clearing for roads, paths, and a pond. This machine produces much coarser chips, which break down a lot more slowly than my fine chips. He uses these chips as a weed suppressing mulch for the native shrubs he plants along their almost mile long community road.

As ken suggests, spell out your requirements. What kind of material do you want to chip? Do you want it powered by gas or by PTO?

Here is a link that might be useful: A mighty little shredder chipper

    Bookmark   December 14, 2013 at 2:31AM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Poaky said, "I needed to purchase a wood chipper min 2012 -2013 winter. I have recently had to resort to needing fuel assistance from Courtesy oil in Dunbar, Pa. I am hoping I can get fuel assistance from them."

Am I going crazy or are all of Poaky's posts from last night weird? I keep running into them in various threads and can't figure out what they mean.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2013 at 2:35PM
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j0nd03

Brandon - she must have been sipping the eggnog last night. Still surly can't compare to the sight of Ken, beverage in one hand, mustard bottle in the other, muttering incoherent ramblings about orange walls and red mulch while he stumbles around trying to find his pruning saw. Ha!

    Bookmark   December 14, 2013 at 3:33PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Ken might just be a real hoot, totally smashed. LOL.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2013 at 3:42PM
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treenutt(8)

my objective is to buy a chipper and the chips I make from the chipper, whether brown or green, are going be used as mulch. How soon can I use the chips if they are green?

    Bookmark   December 14, 2013 at 6:57PM
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treenutt(8)

75% is going to be green yaupon. the rest just scrap we pick up after storms etc..

    Bookmark   December 14, 2013 at 7:03PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

You can use them immediately! (see discussion above)

    Bookmark   December 14, 2013 at 7:43PM
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treenutt(8)

Thankyou

    Bookmark   December 15, 2013 at 8:02AM
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alabamatreehugger(8)

Treenut, I bought a DR chipper after hurricane Dennis in 2005. It has really come in handy for me, because I mostly bought it so I could eradicate Chinese Privet. It works great for privet, yaupon, camphor, Chinese tallow, and red maple. The only thing I hate chipping with it is oak, because those branches will scratch you all up while trying to force them through the chute.

I usually use it in the woods, so I just spread the chips out where I'm working. Takes a few years for them to break down.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2013 at 9:41AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

Ken might just be a real hoot, totally smashed. LOL.

==>>> ken found out.. years ago ... that posting while not sober.. ended up not good ... lol ..

apparently i wasnt as funny as i thought .. [and reading the next day.. i found out i wasnt] ....

since then ... i NEVER reply when imbibing ... lol ...

and this is no reference to the person you are talking about.. since i am not going looking for weirdness.. there is enough of it in my own life...

thus ends.. speaking in the third person .. i am not quite sure about those other two people.. lol ... [third person.. see what i did there??]

ken

    Bookmark   December 16, 2013 at 7:14AM
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poaky1

You are right, I am sorry for posting drunk. I have seen my own posts on garden web and was shocked to read the idiotic posts I've made! Well, at least those I made inebriated. And I previewed them before I posted them, and was apparently fine with them! I will try and post in my right mind from now on.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2013 at 8:17PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

You might be able to use the edit feature to go back and do some editing.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2013 at 8:56PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Poaky,

Hey, there's a bright side. The stuff you said may not have completely made sense, but at least it wasn't your highly personal secrets or some obnoxious rant. For under the influence, you did good! LOL

    Bookmark   December 17, 2013 at 9:21PM
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