A little over a year ago, I posted about a video I had seen, The Garden of Eden, and that I was trying to use the method recommended, which was to get a truckload of wood chips and leaves to use for mulch. You can read the post here.
I want to give you an update and see whether you might want to try this in your garden. I had to do some searching, but I found that either the local telephone company or the electric company (I forget which) had a phone number to call. The tree trimmers they contract to trim trees that get in the way of their power lines get trimmed, and then they look for suckers–oops, I mean, customers–like me, who are willing to accept a load. Normally the tree trimmers have to pay to dump this at the greenwaste facility, so they are happy to dump it on you instead!
What I liked:
- It was free!
- It was easy to do.
- It helped plants grow in our hot summer months
- It made awesome compost to use later, without much work on my part
- There were grubs growing in the pile, which I feed to the chickens and ducks
What I didn’t like:
- Slugs and snails loved it
- It blew away
- Seedlings tended to get busted up and buried
- It took up a lot of space
- There was mold growing, which was probably a health hazard when I shoveled some
- It’s hard to shovel and heavy to move
- There were tons of thorns in the pile
The final tally
So despite the fact that it helped my plants in the summer, I would not repeat this and use the mixture of wood chips and leaves as a mulch. It was quite destructive to any seedlings I planted, because the mulch blew around and smothered the seedling, or the rough edges of the tree chips cut the leaves to bits. The mulch also started to go all over the street, so I had to try to pick that up after a while. And because you have no control over what’s in there, you can get a batch like I did, loaded with painful thorns from rose bushes and lauhala trees.
Although the slug population is pretty much under control now, thanks to many nights of my going out with a knife, to slice them, the snails are out of control in areas I used the chips as mulch. We have tiny snails, about 4-5 mm or 1/4 of an inch when fully grown, that love those wood chips and multiplied like crazy. As a result, I’ve been almost unable to grow much where I used the chips, until recently, when I scraped the top layer of soil and any remaining mulch, to get rid of them. They just devour everything I planted, and they are too tiny for me to see and handpick, and there are too many to even try.
However, the pile has shrunk naturally, because it’s out where it gets rained on, to about 1/2 the size or so. And at the bottom, there is rich, dark compost, all made without my doing anything to the pile. So I am in the process of pushing the top layers off into a smaller pile, or putting some of it in the compost piles, and shoveling out the black gold at the bottom, to use in the garden.
If you’re wondering whether or not to try this method,
here’s what I’d recommend. IF you have a large area, out of the way, but where the pile can get rained on, and you can leave it there, to break down, then I say, absolutely, go for it! If you have access to a tractor or something, to help you turn the pile and move some of it around, you lucky dog!
But if you have a small area, or, if, like in my case, it was blocking access to the garage for a year, I’d say pass. The wood chips are very heavy and hard to shovel and move. And the amount that was dumped was HUGE! I’ve made countless trips back and forth, taking chips to the garden and compost pile, but there is still a large amount left, still breaking down after more than a year.