wood chips and branches?

woohoomanMarch 2, 2013

I haven't gotten into the vermicomposting thing yet, but have been meaning to. I do compost though.

My scenario and question:

Last week, a local tree trimmer dumped a couple yards of rather large, FRESH(green) wood chips and branches on my driveway. I thought I could use them for mulch, but they're just way too fresh that it would take a year or 2 to dry them out. SO I built a pile with them, hoping they'll decompose some to use later either as compost or mulch. I still see this taking a long time and I don't actually have a lot of space here in my dinky SoCal backyard.

So, I was thinking worms, maybe? Will they munch on woody vegetation like this and possibly leave me with a nice pile of castings/compost?

I know I'd have to let the pile cool down before I add them. I was just wondering if they'll munch on wood and if it's worth it to throw 2-5 lbs of reds on the pile.

Thanks

Kevin

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sbryce_gw

Worms don't have teeth. They cannot ingest OM until it has decomposed to the point where it is soft enough to be pulled into their mouths by the worm equivalent of lips. worms won't be munching on the wood chips until they are already well decomposed. They may suck microbes off of the surface of the decomposing wood chips, but they certainly won't be taking bites out of them and chewing them up.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2013 at 11:38AM
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petrock1963

I dont see why you couldn't use it as a mulch if you have shrubs and such. They will break down over time.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 11:11AM
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woohooman

sbryce: LOL... I know they don't have teeth. I was just thinking(hoping) that they would speed up the process of decomposition. But, from your answer, I guess not really.

petrock: yes. around shrubs and such, they'd probably do well as is. But since the majority of my gardening is veggies, I want a more aged product.

Kevin

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 1:54PM
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equinoxequinox

"I was just wondering if they'll munch on wood and if it's worth it to throw 2-5 lbs of reds on the pile." It would be quite some time, like a few years before the pile would be of interest to vermicomposting worms. Even then it would be just a nice damp place to hang out and not a treasure trove of hidden worm food. It would be a bit like throwing 2-5 pounds of single dollar bills on the pile.

Spreading the fresh wood chips onto your garden would be similar to practicing the "Back to Eden" garden that is popular now.

5# of worms can cost as much as $150. I keep thinking that would purchase a lot of something good for the garden.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 12:16AM
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thedogsLL(6B)

And wood chips as mulch around veggies will still keep down weeds and hold in moisture. We only have room for tomatoes in containers in our tiny yard, but I still mulch. Veggies are plants too!

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 5:54PM
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woohooman

thedogsLL:

Don't get me wrong. I mulch too. I just normally do it with a less fresh product. I usually use municipal compost that has been aged in a wind tunnel. I was just concerned about this particular pile of branches and chips --- It's very large chips and has quite a bit of foliage in it. It actually would make an almost perfect pile of compost if the chips were a lot smaller(shavings).

I just thought(maybe) I could quicken up the process if I added worms.

It's ok though. I'll just let it do it's thing -- heat up, turn, cool down a bit, heat up, turn, cool a bit more and so on until it's aged a bit more.

Kevin

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 8:42PM
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thedogsLL(6B)

That big, huh? I use pretty fresh mulch, but it's usually put through mulching twice - cut down and fed into a chipper, then raked into rows and run over with a mulching mower, so I'm probably thinking finer that what you were gifted with. It'll definitely work the natural way tho, like you said.

I have small things to trim and small places to add mulch, so...

    Bookmark   March 6, 2013 at 5:57PM
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coachgrumpy

Here's a thought. Last year I had my trees trimmed and even had one 40 ft poplar removed. I ended up with the same size trimmings that you are talking about. I ran about a third of the pile through my chipper/shredder and ended up with a finer product that is breaking down quicker and was immediately more usable.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 10:14AM
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woohooman

Yeah.. These are more like wood "chunks" rather than chips. I might just let them age some more and use around some ornamentals where I've been meaning to change out the mulch. Just too big and fresh for my veggies imho.

coach: That'd be ideal IF I had a chipper. I just really don't have a need for one though for my very small SoCal backyard garden. I agree --- if you can get small uniform chips, it makes it real easy to use right away as mulch or just add a bunch of green waste or manure and 6 months later have a well balanced compost.

Kevin

    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 4:12PM
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chickencoupe

Rollie pollies love those wood blocks.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 4:50AM
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