Wood Chippings, the ‘no dig’ Gold

I’ve been bugging a few local tree surgeons for wood chippings for a while in order to continue on my ‘no dig’ journey. Today was my lucky day; two seperate people called me and said they had a truck load of chippings! 

I received cherry, sycamore, some Holly and a bit of ‘random shrub’. All of which I believe can be mulch material for most perennials. I asked if there was any conifer type material as I would have seperated this out to make ericacious compost for the acid loving plants like Holly and Blueberries. 

The rest of the afternoon was spent barrowing the haul on next year’s edible shrub and hop bed which has the following layers:

1) 3 Trenches dug through turning over topsoil (we had a man and digger hired in for another job so he managed this pretty quickly)

2) Twigs, sticks and any other woody material I could find at the time placed at the bottom of the trench.

3) Topsoil shovelled back on top but upside down.

4) 6 month old (fresh) manure (about 8 inches)

5) Man made banner (plastic sheeting)

The bed has been like this for about 6 months.

I dug the trenches initially so I could add the wood material (hugelkultur style). However, it will be no-dig from now on as are all of my other beds. This is how the bed looked half covered (it was dark when I finished)

All of this area will eventually be  mulched with organic material for both growing fruit, veg, herbs and hops and pathways. I’m killing the grass off over the winter using man made materials and layering the beds up with whatever organic material I can get my hands on. Most recently are unwanted leaves (why do people discard their leaves? Oh well, I’ll have them!) And seaweed.

Seaweed is controversial to me now as I found a needle in the last lot and I feel bad for taking it from mother Earth. What I do make sure I do whenever I go to the beach is to pick up as much plastic as possible so I at least feel that I am giving back.

You can kind of see from the last picture the bed on the right is topped with a layer of mouldy hay with seaweed on top. The bottom layer is 18 month old manure. This bed will be ready in 2 years’ time for annuals, maybe sooner for bushes or shrubs.

This year (well, 2017) I haven’t dug over any of my beds in an effort to establish if no-dig is possible. Mulch and mulch and mulch with anything you can get your hands on is the current method I am adopting; whilst carefully making sure that there are layers of different mulches when trying to create ‘soil’ in new beds. From my recent reading, soil should never be bare. It needs it’s protection blanket (mulch) to protect from weathering and weeds and to keep nutrients and water in too.

What do you guys think? Have you tried no-dig? What are your favourite mulches?

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