Author Topic: making mulch  (Read 1341 times)

Offline WKDTOM

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making mulch
« on: June 27, 2017, 06:10:50 AM »
I'm in the middle of trimming some trees out of my land to give more light and access to some more favorable plants.  I burn wood in the winter and am hoping to use mulch from this project around the property.  So I'm looking for advice on the following species and how they do as mulch for use around my garden or possibly in other places I may not have considered.  I figured it would be better to chip than just burn the brush since I had access to the chipper for nothing.

First I cut down a lot of Sumac (red fruit) that were essentially infesting an area where I have a lot of peach and apple trees.  The largest of these is maybe 6-8" diameter, but most are 3-4 inches, and I've got about half a cord stacked in 4-8 foot unsplit lengths.  I was planning to use these to burn in my recreational fire pit outside.  I still have the tops and small branches of these trees lying on the ground, I cut them down about a month ago, so they are pretty dry.  I don't really know much about these things but I do have another area that's gone from open to completely covered with these over the last decade, and I'd like to free it up for hardwoods in the future, so I'd like to find a good solution for these things aside from burning them.

Next I spent this weekend cutting down several ash trees, and a couple of small (4-5 inch dia) maple and oak trees.  I've got them down to log lengths of heat wood and I chipped/shredded the tops, I'd say I ended up with about two yards of mulch that way and it's almost entirely ash.  I've got probably this much again in ash that's still standing, along with a decent sized maple I'll be taking down as part of this project.  I haven't seen anything bad about either of these species and they will continue to make up  the majority of my harvest in the future. 

Lastly I have a pine to take down and a bunch of mixed evergreens to trim.  Again the main wood will be burned outside, I don't burn soft wood in the house, but I was not sure about blending the needles and such in with the rest of the mulch.  I am not 100% sure of all the species of the pine trees in this section but there are a few distinct species.  They were planted by my parents about 25 years ago, they got all of the young trees for free from a friend to basically make a barrier of trees between our house and the next one, without any preference to the species.


I have a pretty good variety of trees around here so any general tips for what to avoid or seek out would be great. 

Offline WKDTOM

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Re: making mulch
« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2017, 09:22:03 PM »
Well if anyone was wondering... I mulched up all the ash and within a couple of days the pile was producing a good amount of heat along with a nice sharp fragrance.  I ended up using it to edge around my garden fence and then to fill in the voids around our squash mounds.  So far so good, weeding is going to be much easier in the future. 

I trimmed up some of the pines and should finish mulching the drops tomorrow after work.  At the moment there isn't much so I'm just spreading it right back under the trees I trimmed it from, no real change there but a little more space for me and possibly a little acceleration of the decomposition. 

I have heard that pine mulch is good for certain plants, would it be worthwhile to add some around my blueberry and strawberry bushes?

Offline Stwood

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Re: making mulch
« Reply #2 on: July 05, 2017, 10:23:58 PM »
I'd grind up all the non used (firewood) branches in mulch and put it on whatever.
You could also start a compost pile with some of it.
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Offline Redman

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Re: making mulch
« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2017, 06:50:38 AM »
Those pine needles could make I decent mulch by themselves. They take forever to break down. If ground and mixed in other compost/mulch I don't know.
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Offline Cedar

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Re: making mulch
« Reply #4 on: July 12, 2017, 10:20:45 AM »
My question is what do you want to use the mulch on? Fir ends to be acid. Blueberries = Good. Carrots= Bad

Cedar
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Offline Redman

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Re: making mulch
« Reply #5 on: July 13, 2017, 09:56:13 AM »
Yes, that's it. I knew that there was something else about it but couldn't remember.

https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/garden-how-to/mulch/pine-straw-for-mulch.htm
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Offline CagedFeral

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Re: making mulch
« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2017, 03:36:40 AM »
Some of those bigger pine chunks might be good to bury in ground next to something like a newly planted berry plant. It's like a mini hugelkultur.

I have a 1 year old blackberry going crazy because it's right next to a pine tree stump that I had to cut a couple years ago.  I don't think anything I've ever planted has grow as fast and healthy as this blackberry right up next to this rotting pine stump.
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Offline Cedar

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Re: making mulch
« Reply #7 on: July 15, 2017, 04:30:10 AM »
I have a 1 year old blackberry going crazy because it's right next to a pine tree stump that I had to cut a couple years ago.  I don't think anything I've ever planted has grow as fast and healthy as this blackberry right up next to this rotting pine stump.

HA.. you can pour diesel and a match on blackberries here and they thrive so very well... They are our bane.

Cedar
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Offline CagedFeral

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Re: making mulch
« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2017, 05:12:06 AM »
Ceder, you must be in the NW? I've heard that about them being bad over there. I'm in S. Ohio. We get them here too but they seem to grow weak unless you encourage them.  I have a few wild plants here but they never seem to produce much. Maybe birds get it.
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Offline Cedar

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Re: making mulch
« Reply #9 on: July 15, 2017, 05:18:30 AM »
Yep, in Oregon. A couple days ago, I was checking out unused older 2-3 story barns, and a couple of empty houses as I drove by in my travels, which will soon be completely covered with blackberry vines, not leaving any structure to view. Our main ones are Himalayan, Evergreen (my fav one to eat), and dewberry, which is low and just runs on the ground with microberries.

Cedar
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Offline CagedFeral

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Re: making mulch
« Reply #10 on: July 17, 2017, 05:34:55 AM »
Ceder, I could see why these thorned berries could be a nightmare. If they grow like Japanese honeysuckle does here.  I have a life long battle with honeysuckle here but no thorns so I guess I'm lucky.

As for mulch. I wish I had a chipper. I have about 2 acres to clear also. I'm waiting till fall before I fire up the chainsaw.

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Offline Cedar

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Re: making mulch
« Reply #11 on: July 17, 2017, 10:08:24 AM »
You can rent chippers

Cedar
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Offline Stwood

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Re: making mulch
« Reply #12 on: July 17, 2017, 05:20:40 PM »
I always thought I might one day purchase a DR tractor mounted chipper
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Offline WKDTOM

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Re: making mulch
« Reply #13 on: July 17, 2017, 08:34:27 PM »
Thanks for all the replies everyone.  I've been busy taking advantage of the daylight we get this time of year, never seems like there is enough time. 

The ash mulch has worked out pretty well in the garden as a weed blocker.  I spent most of my day yesterday in the garden and ended up spreading mulch on the rest of the garden and thickening up some other areas.  I still have about a yard left and many more in the standing timber for future years.  I'm going to find a spot to do this so I can store it or keep a working pile going as I cut trees, for now it's mostly just in the way. 

I build a small bed at one end of the garden, outside the fence at the beginning of the season.  My fiancee grew some alpine strawberries from seed and we planted those along with a ~18 inch tall blueberry bush we purchased at a local store's spring garden sale.  While the strawberries are still very small, they are easily 2-3 times the size of another one we kept in a pot (still outside), and the blueberry bush has been producing berries almost since we transplanted it.  I did a little weeding and ripped up some of the grass around it all and mulched it with a couple fork fulls of the pine stuff yesterday. 

I also discovered a lot of black raspberry plants growing around the pines while I was clearing them out, we have a few patches of them around the property but I didn't know about this one.  I don't know much about them other than that they've been growing wild here my whole life, and I remember filling gallon sized bowls with them when I was a kid.  It seems they also like the pine infused soil so I left them alone as much as I could.  I basically have a row of ten or so evergreens of a few different species making a sort of natural fence, and I started stacking wood between them last year.  I am working on a better long term wood storage system and would like to convert the spaces in the row to berries, whether they be more planted blueberry bushes or let the raspberries take over (or both).  Project for another season anyway.

As far as the shredder goes... I am borrowing a Troybuilt unit from a friend, I am not sure of the exact model but it's bigger than the average homeowner's with what I would guess is a 10hp engine, chipper chute and top mounted shredder with the top about four feet off the ground.  I have to move it every ten minutes or so to keep the bottom clear from clogs, but it eats up just about everything I give it in the shredder and chips anything that fits in the chute.  I looked at comparable rentals near me and they were something like $150 per hour, at that rate I would just buy my own.

So going forward, I know the ash mulch works for the garden and the pine/evergreen is good for the berries etc.  Does anyone know about any other hardwood mulches I should either stay away from or seek for certain applications?  Would it be a good idea to mix mulch from different species together (adding new while turning the old) or keep them separated?  Lastly, what is the "shelf life" of a pile that's freshly chipped? 

Offline CagedFeral

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Re: making mulch
« Reply #14 on: July 22, 2017, 04:07:04 AM »
I'd think it's all useful mulch. I'd probably try to keep a soft wood pile and a hardwood pile.

I know any pine mulch would be good around berries.

Let us know what you learn. I may rent a chipper this fall myself. I'm in the same boat. I have about 2 acres of junk pine sumac and a few small white oak. Needs cleared out so I can start something more productive.
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