3 Ureka!

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continued from 2 Musings, Experiments & Discoveries

Months later, I googled “how to make soil”.

hugelkultur

hugelkultur

Two webpages got my attention because they mentioned wood chips and mycorrhiza, ramial wood chips and mycelium – i had already read many pages on mycelium, ramial woodchips – not really understanding it all …. and began to think that it was imperative to get some wood in the soil of the veg garden, as in hugelkultur, but on a much finer scale. I began to examine my long-held belief that wood chips were no good for vege gardening (because of the robbing of nitrogen from plants), reminding myself that i had used a type of woody mulchy soil in North Qld to great effect.

1  Tom Clothier 2003

2 Mother Earth News 2010

Reading from Tom Clothier,

Any wood chip mixture can be used as mulch, however, the depth of the material should not exceed 2 to 3 inches, as its only purpose is to prevent moisture loss from the soil (comment from Marion – we now know that the mixture has many many purposes, not just to retain moisture and that the mix should be 4 to 6 inches).
One point of interest is that wood chip mulch actually raised the pH in studies, contrary to the usual “Wood chips? Omygawd they’ll make yer soil too acid” sort of talk.
A few other results:
Over a five year period in market gardens:
increased yields of 50-300% from a single application of two inches of chips plus either hog manure or poultry manure;
Better tasting strawberries;
more dry matter in potatoes;
Reduced aphid and nematode populations in strawberries;
Better root development and much more mycorhizal development;
Increase in pH and reduction in weeds.

I googled “soil and wood chips”.  All below are worth a read.

https://www.uvm.edu/vtvegandberry/Pubs/Wood%20Chips%20in%20Vegetable%20Production.pdf

http://puyallup.wsu.edu/~linda%20chalker-scott/horticultural%20myths_files/Myths/magazine%20pdfs/Woodchips.pdf

http://puyallup.wsu.edu/~linda%20chalker-scott/horticultural%20myths_files/Myths/Wood%20chip%20pathogens.pdf

http://permaculturenews.org/2014/05/07/fungal-soil-want/

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/10/05/wood-chips-ground-cover.aspx

The last link by Mercola (thank you Dr Mercola) introduced me to BACK TO EDEN.  I watched the film and I was transfixed.  I was transported!  I watched the film over and over again.  I showed it to others and they did not seem to be as excited as I was … then again, I had been thinking of just such a mulch for so long …. and here it was – my dream come true!

As Mercola says,

One important aspect I learned though is that the wood chip pile will tend to decompose rather rapidly if you don’t spread it on your landscape right away. So it is best to spread the chips over a few days and not leave it in a pile. Otherwise you will wind up needing to wear a mask when you use a pitchfork to move the chips into your wheel barrel to avoid inhaling the dust..

I am convinced that Paul makes load of sense and that this is a crucial part of the equation for creating healthy soil to produce healthy plants. Wood chips seem to eliminate the need for any fertilizer or mineral supplements, reduce watering and make weeding a snap.

I hope you will overlook the religious overtones of this film if that doesn’t appeal to you, because regardless of your religious beliefs (or lack thereof), the information shared still has tremendous value, and is sure to be of interest to anyone concerned with sustainable agriculture. As presented by Documentary Storm:1

“Dana & Sarah Films, a nomadic grassroots film production company, travel to Washington where Paul Gautschi has developed a revolutionary gardening technique that is estimated to cut back on the need for irrigation by up to 95 percent.

Paul is known locally as a master arborist and is now inspiring people across the nation to experiment with his gardening methods by starting their own ‘Back to Eden’ gardens.”

 

And here is the BACK TO EDEN film for you to freely watch online!

 

 

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