I have heard that pine chips are not friendly as mulch in our veggie garden (ringed by perennials). Fact or fiction?
I have read that wood-chip based mulches are better for permanent plantings such as perennials, shrubs and trees, because they create the kind of microbial soil conditions that favor these kinds of plants. For annuals -- and most vegetable garden are annuals -- you would do better with a mulch of straw. In any case, I have taken this advice myself in my own garden, straw for the veggies and wood chips for the trees and perennial plantings. I have garden compost as a layer under both.
Wood chips create a more fungally based situation, which as Rosefolly mentions, is better for more permanent plants, particularly shrubs and trees. Green mulches (like from grass clippings) set up bacterially based conditions, which are better for annuals, like most vegetables. Still, if you used pine chips, you're likely OK anyway as there is usually some of both no matter what, just make sure you have some good compost on top of the soil, but below the chips. These same principles apply to making compost. You can actually create a compost that is more specifically geared to whatever plants you want to grow. That's a little bit more complicated than I want to get with my plantings right now, so I just put any compost I have on anything.
Pine wood chips will rob the soil of nitrogen as they break down and some of your plants may suffer chlorosis. On the other hand, pine bark chips don't take up nitrogen when they break down and they do add a lot of valuable nutrients to the soil. I always try to use the small pine bark chips in my paths for a season or two and then rake them up and toss them on the beds as mulch. Walking on them breaks them into even smaller pieces and they turn very dark. The plants do very well and they are acidic so they discourage the noxious weed seeds that thrive in poor soil. Cheryl
Got a planting site, an old sawmill, where seven year-old eastern white pine saplings will be going into four or five feet of old pine sawdust and chips.
What would the best approach be in terms of soil around plant, nutrients etc on and after planting? Do you think the plants will take in that environment?