Hardwood bark in the garden

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by muddstopper, Jan 20, 2009.

  1. muddstopper

    muddstopper LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,341

    In my efforts to rebuild my veggie garden, that happens to be buried under several feet of subsoil. I am thinking about using some left over double ground hardwood bark mulch. This is last years mulch left piled up since spring. I dont have enough for the whole garden spot so I am thinking about just top dressing it over my onion bulbs. The material is breaking down pretty fast it seems as the pile is certainly smaller than it was when it was dumped in its present site. Has anyone ever done this. I wouldnt classifie the bark as a true compost, but its getting pretty close. Heres the threory behind it

    Attached Files:

  2. treegal1

    treegal1 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,911

    mudd, my first garden was nothing but wood chips, mostly bark and leaves. I just finished a book,, ruth stout no work garden book,, and she says to mulch everything. my last house we used as a mulch dump all the time, it went from sand hole to paradise!!! even at the farm and several landscapes we add mulch wood flour or chips to lawns to add OM at some level.

    some will say that the wood will steal N from the soil, ok lets say yes, but does it go any place?? and I have never seen it rod from on top of the soil, just catch what may have evaporated or volatilized in the first place.

    that is where humus starts in the forest, trees are cannibals.....
  3. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776

    Go ahead and use it.

    If it was fresh hardwood mulch that was worth something, then I would say no don't use it and go find some recycled material from the local landscaping center.

    But, since it's old, go for it. Either use it as a weed barrier after all your plants are established, or, spread it and till it in.

    Regardless, earth worms love cellulose fibers.

    Also, might want to think about turning mulch pile a couple of times to get the natural processes working again before you use it.
  4. muddstopper

    muddstopper LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,341

    OK, both of you missed the point. Did you read the attached doc.

    I, like many have used wood chips as a mulch material, even using saw dust in the garden. According to the attached doc. 75% of all the trees nutrients are in the outer layers of the tree. Hardwood being much better at building and replaceing soils and humis than the conifer. The doc also mentioned not composting before using and only applying to the top layer of the soil.

    As for Trees statements about N consumption. Mulch materials tilled into the soil provide more surface areas for microbial contact since the entire mulch material is surrounded with the soil. With surface applied materials, only the bottom layer of the mulch is in contact with the soil, effectively reduceing the speed of decomposition and nitrogen requirements therefore reduceing nitrogen starvation to the growing plants.

    I actually used a portion of this same mulch material in my garden last year and at the end of the growing season, I tilled it into the soil. I also used it to mulch a few small veggie beds containing only one or two plants in each bed. The plants produced well and required little attention as far as water requirements. Everything else we watered daily. This in subsoil conditions and with no fertilizer imputs.

    The area I intend to use this year has been fertilized and limed, a cover crop planted and horse manure/bedding incorporated last fall. I will also be useing the same area that I used the hardwood mulch in last year, with more of the same mulch material top dress applied this year. Time will tell if I am makeing headway.
  5. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776

    I read it.

    That is why I was referring to turning the pile in order to get the aerobic process going again before you use it. Stack a mulch pile too high, wide, or never turn it and you have an anaerobic breakdown that you don't want.

    I have used leftover and removed hardwood in my garden and have had no problems with it. Everything out of my garden tastes great and I rarely use Fertilizer or Chemical. (I do a little)

    You'll definitively will make headway with everything you've done to it so far.

    What kind of soil was in the garden to begin with ? Is it you're ambition to make the garden chemical free and back to a native state?
  6. Barefoot James

    Barefoot James LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 984

    If you read and reread this article you will find this is probably the answer to soil transformation. The most fertile soils came from old growth OAK forests.
    This all has nothing to do with the bark or trunk of big trees but the new growth that is less than 2.75 inches - this wood contains all the good stuff. Grind it down and incorporate it into the top inch (5cm's) of soil - disc it in and you will have a major component of creating REAL humus - you still may need to inoculate mycorrhizae to get the glomalin going. Basically Myco/glomalin + RWC (Ramial Wood Chips) = Humus or really good living topsoil.

    We really need to start looking at forests not as timber but as gardens that each fall (after leaf drop) could be harvested - not the whole tree just the new growth (2.75 inch branches and under) - ground up and disked in.

    Oaks are the best from my studies and the feed back - other good ones are sugar maples and beech. Evergreens are bad sources.

    I for sure am looking into this big time. This is also a solution to farming on large scales as fields would need to get 1 inch of RWC every 4 to 5 years - very doable with the right tools and forest access.
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2009
  7. Barefoot James

    Barefoot James LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 984

    White Gardens - reread it. This has nothing to do with composting it first. You have to get the fresh RCW into the soil and let the natural biology (microbes) in the soil do their thing - they will compost it for you and they will use air. This is key to RCW. Some of the most fertile crumbley soil you will find is where some tree companies empty out their chippers (storage areas).
  8. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776

    Oh no, I wasn't suggesting turning it to compost, or composting first. I was just saying from personal experience, and from the article, that it can't be stored devoid of Oxygen.

    I understand the article and what they are saying about fresh material being better and I agree with what it is saying.
  9. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,334

    Interesting. Didn't read the whole thing yet, but enough to get the gist. Do have any supporting papers.
  10. Barefoot James

    Barefoot James LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 984

    I kinda figured you had this going on in your yard Kiril - hence the wood chips and worm casts. Google it and there are several others who have written their experiences with RWC. Glad we could turn you on to something new.

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