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Willow wood chips

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by mainstation, Jun 12, 2013.

  1. mainstation

    mainstation Feeling the Heat

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    I cut a large weeping Willow tree down about two years ago from my backyard. The stump sat for two years and was a backdrop for many a branch/brush fire until finally I had the stump professionally ground down to woodchip. I know have approx 4 cu yards of willow mulch. My question is can I use them without fear of regeneration and/or is the acidity of the woodchips possibly to strong for the garden?
    I have cut a lot of big trees but was surprised at the amount and size of some of the larger roots.

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  2. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    I would not recommend throwing any "raw" wood chips on a vegetable garden. They will pull nitrogen during the decomposition stage. I would seriously doubt that there is any concern of regeneration at this point.
    ScotO and Backwoods Savage like this.
  3. mainstation

    mainstation Feeling the Heat

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    It wouldn't be a veggie garden, I would be using them in an ornamental/flower garden setting only.
  4. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    Hmmm....dunno about that. If I can't eat it or burn it, I don't intentionally grow it.:cool:
  5. Augie

    Augie Feeling the Heat

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    THIS
    Shane N likes this.
  6. Paulywalnut

    Paulywalnut Minister of Fire

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    Willow is a large vile weed that must be destroyed. The chips are
    also very dangerous.lol
  7. Applesister

    Applesister Minister of Fire

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    I would guess everything organic gives off some pH reaction in decomposition but the willow was growing on the soil from the same area. I processed some oak logs on my lawn and within a couple of days my grass was burned in the processing area. But Oak has a reputation for that.
    The composition of your willow would seem to be related to the composition of your soil. I did a similar thing but I chipped about 9 truckloads of chipped brush and experimentally dumped it along a row of grey birch.
    Im hoping the birch trees dont adversly react to my brilliant idea to landscape with fresh prunings mulch.
    So far the surrounding vegetation is showing no signs of burning.
    Every time I consult my county extension agent they arent all that helpful.
    This type of situation is why I try to use as much wood as feasable for fuel wood. Because it is added back to the soil somehow.
    Ash becomes slightly alkaline but the chips are acidic but I dont know by how much.
  8. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    lots of growth hormone in willow. Soak some chips in water and dip cuttings of flowers you'd like to propagate....roses, mock orange, poppy, spiderwort, portulaca, clematis, many others.

    The chips should be OK if you keep them a bit away from the plants so they don't burn the plants during the earliest stages of decomposition. If you're concerned, try putting some around some weeds and see what happens to the weeds in the center. If nothing, you're good to go.. Better yet if you have weeds to get rid of, put down black plastic, then put them on the plastic covered weeds for a few weeks, then gradually remove from the top and mulch the garden gradually.
  9. Applesister

    Applesister Minister of Fire

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    LOL burning weeds is a good thing. Too bad you cant burn poison ivy.
    Willow is not that bad. It ALL goes in the woodpile here.
    besides if you didnt have willow and boxelder you'd never know how great mulberry was.
    Paulywalnut likes this.
  10. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    I burned some poison ivy once. That is the only time I broke out and it as awful!!!!

    As for the wood chips, you can and probably should add some lime and also adding some nitrogen helps. As Jags stated, the wood chips will rob nitrogen. We used to say that using sawdust rather than straw (bedding for cattle or chickens) would sour the ground and it did. Adding lime took care of the problem though.
    ScotO likes this.
  11. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    Good point re the lime. I forget everyone isn't on limestone:).
    ScotO likes this.
  12. midwestcoast

    midwestcoast Minister of Fire

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    Definitely use them as mulch. There is no concern of them robbing nitrogen if they are on the surface where they are exposed to air which is about 78% nitrogen. Don't pile more than about 4" deep no matter what mulch you're using and don't till them into the soil.
    A slightly acid pH is also not a big deal with mulches as the soil and decomposition will buffer it.
    It won't last as long as the nice baged Cyprus mulch from the box store, but it will actually build the organic content of your soil up more/faster.

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