Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Stumptown becomes Chipland

NE Portland is the land of chips. Big lots with a lot of folks interested in growing food not lawns. I've lost track how many truckloads of wood chips I've spread on this garden. Each truckload is 10 cubic yards. At least 60 cubic yards in 4 years. That's a small plywood factory in some places. Each truckload I swear will be the last I'll need.

Six months later I'm calling up Wind Thin Tree Service, asking for another truckload. If you see or hear someone chipping, check it out. It pays to know which companies do work in your area. Most arborists are happy do unload their trucks. That saves them the driving, dump fees and keeps it out of the land fills.

Wood chips work wonderfully for keeping the weeds down. To colonize a new area, I lay several layers of cardboard down and then cover with a thick 6 to 8 inch layer of chips. Only the dandelions can survive a year of smothering. No weeds. Even blackberries struggle to take root. The chips make for great paths in the garden. Soft and no mud.

The trick is to spread the pile as fast as possible. Aside from being in the street, steaming, the big pile can build up quite a bit of heat as it starts to decompose. It's not going to burst into spontaneous combustion, but there can be some really nasty mold in that big mass that you don't want to breathe. Spread around, it's not a problem.

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