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Say No to wood chips (tomato killer)

Posted by mrsjustice Hampton Va. (My Page) on
Thu, Sep 4, 08 at 11:39

Dear Carolyn

I would be honored to drop everything to be at your side, if you need me.

Hello all tomato Forum Members

I have learned so much from you and all the Tomato Forum members over the years. You and others have giving me especial knowledge, that keeping my Small Heirloom Farm Growing, even in wake of problems, especially this year. My husband and I decided to work with a neighbor that wanted to cut down a tree in my big garden, which over hanged in his back yard, along with 1/3 of this Oat tree growing on his property mainly the large roots too, leaving the wood chips. The company he hired gave me a good deal to cut a tree on my property. This tree was not Oat, and not as big as that Oat tree, but half rotten. I gave his company use of my Tomato Farm in January to cut down the tree, leaving the woodchips, and 250.00 to cut down that tree on my property with-out chipping because of it's rotten conditions to avoid fungus or insect problems.

This was the biggest mistake yet with my tomatoes, because the wood chips changed the Ph balance of my soil which I worked so hard over the years to obtain.

I donot understand how that happen, because every month starting the end of January when the "Wood Chips Mountain" would reach about 164 F with steam coming from top I would remove the top layer an till into the soil February, March, April, First tomatoes in late May 2008 Died. The heirlooms died in only the area of wood chips, in that area of my big grader. I planted a thick crop cover, with over six thousand tomatoes plants growing in the shade area close to the house.

The chop cover did it's job of removing any sap from wood chips, but I have to replace phosphorous and potassium to the soil using Rosa Rush Organic fertilizer and Organic plant food drops. Than transplant large tomato plants back to their location making sure I do not disturb dirt from root ball.

I am thankful and blessed that the lord gave me the ideal to plants all of the six thousand seeds I used to get my certification as a Professional seed saver last year. They saved my heirloom farm this year, along with the tomato knowledges I received from you-all over many many years.

The lowe's Stones & Bush Goliath, Opalka, Red and Green Zebra, Amish salad, has made people who come by happy.

All other's crops of heirlooms will truly be late season this year.

I need a break, and will be happy to take a brake, to take care of Carolyn, Amen!!!

Can someone tell me, why oat woodchips killed my Hierlooms Tomatoes?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Say No to wood chips (tomato killer)

Wood chips "leach" the nitrogen from the soil in order to break the tannin and other elements in wood down. That's the grounds response to breaking down anything to make it palatable and good for it'self. Same thing will happen if you use sawdust or wood shavings (the only caveat to this is if you live where there is a lot of alkali in the soil, which I do in Wyoming, the wood chips/shavings actually improve the soil and farmers till them in their fields here in great quatities.)

The rule of thumb if I am not mistaken (and please, if someone knows better, just say so...) is when adding wood products to soil, they should be added at a rate of 1 pound of them to 2 lbs of compost manure, etc. If the chips/whatever are very fresh (not old or partially dead wood) they should be left in a pile somewhere for at least a year, preferrably more. You see bark chips in flower beds used as mulch but they are on top of the ground and usually, not too much leaching occurs except if they are contantly watered from above.

So sorry you had to find this out the hard way. Mother Nature can be a hag and justs loves to torment us sometimes!


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RE: Say No to wood chips (tomato killer)

I am having a hard time making sense of your post the way it is written.

The basics:

-wood chips will tie up nitrogen
-lots of organic matter decomposing will tend to reduce pH
-trees in the walnut family (walnuts, pecans, butternuts, hickories and a few others you could research easily from google) will exude a substance which will inhibit some other plants.

"I would remove the top layer an till into the soil"

I would have taken chips not from the top of the pile but bottom. These would have been more decomposed and tied up less nitrogen.

Wood pulp/chips/dust has a high carbon content and it takes more nitrogen to feed the critters in the soil to break it down. Adding some sort of nitrogen source would have helped not only the pile but the garden soil.

As water and soil critters act on organic matter the tendency is to drop the pH some during this process.

You state you think the pH changed but did you actually measure this or assume it? Unless you added lots of chips in a small area the pH wouldn't be that big of a factor. I would think the nitrogen being tied up was more of the issue than this though it could be a co-factor.

If the other tree was in the walnut family the chips, roots leaf litter could (Trudi's confounding word) remain present for several year before the chemical they produced would be leached.

If you want to help the situation:

-try to figure out what kind of trees they were.
-test the pH to see if its in the right range. adjust if necessary
-add lots of nitrogen. alfalfa meal, blood meal and/or some manure would be ok organic sources. Sodium nitrate would really kick things up (mined from rocks so considered "organic") however you can really add too much AND you will be adding some sodium to the soil which really isnt a good thing. Adding excess manure could also add too much "salts".

I think the issue is simply too much nitrogen was tied up for the plants to survive. But you should also rule out the other possibilities because they too could be factors.

Here is a link that might be useful: jugalone producing plants


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RE: Say No to wood chips (tomato killer)

Thank you Brokenbar

It was a very hard lesson, because I through the temperture of over 80 f and some times reaching up to 164 f under plastic one day around March would make it ready for tilling in the ground.

I am so thankfull Hubby let me have the whole back yard, next to garden property to plant the new Herilooms,with a little of the back yard to keep the dogs out of my little tomatoes farm.

I was thinking this would be the best year yet.

This is the first week of just resting from transplanting.

It hard being a farmer sometimes, Amen!!!

Thank you


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RE: Say No to wood chips (tomato killer)

Brokenbar,
That may be a rule of thumb, it was our experience over the years that any vegetative material added to soil that was not broken down to the point of being humus was not wholly beneficial. Most times, there would be no issue, but, in situations where conditions were not optimal, wood could create nutrient deficiencies, whether recently harvested, or partially composted. Generally, you want to avoid adding wood chips to soil. We often used nitrified soil amendment made from fir or hardwood sawdust, but, this is material that has been balance with nitrogen to offset the binding through decomposition.


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RE: Say No to wood chips (tomato killer)

This is the first week of just resting from transplanting.

MrsJ,
You are setting out tomatoes now? Isn't it quite late to be doing that in your area, or might you have protection in mind for them so the season can be extended?

I'm sorry to hear of your soil woes.

Sue


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RE: Say No to wood chips (tomato killer)

Dear Mule

I always try very hard to communicate, but fall just a little when its a complicated situation, Amen!!

So I will try again to explain!

The type of tree was Oat around 60 feet.

Before wood chips top soil has a PH of 6.6 to 7.0. with many companies delivering special dirt over the years.

The eastern area of large land where I used the top of the "Mountain of Oat Wood chip" had the lowest PH around 2.1 for subsoil, and 3 to 4 top of the soil.

[So,.that's enough evidence to support I should have pulled from the bottom of the pile). My bad!!!

That area have on tomatoes growing and need you-all help to get that area ready for next year because it is open land with no raised beds still unable to grow tomatoes, a complete crop failure of Heirlooms.

The basics:
If I had the basics knowledge that wood chips and manure had a completely different decomposing brake-down superior, this would have not happen. But with much knowledge I have received over the years here at Garden Web, I was able to Identify each symptoms as the plants was dyeing in that east area of open land. They were suffering Symptoms of iron, Phosphorus, and Potassium deficiency.

With the advice I have received from you-all so far, it seems the east part of large land will need manure in large parts because I used the top of the wood chips in that location to get it ready for next year, Amen!!

I do believe their is a complete education I need to learn about different tree types, because three years ago my husband and I used my own large chip machine to grimed up an apply tree downed by hurricane Isabel, and it work out very good for large land and didn't inhibit Tomatoes plants.

Mrs. j


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RE: Say No to wood chips Reply from Sue

Dear: chemocurl

Thanks Sue

The Tomatoes I have been transplanting are taller than I am. They have tomatoes on them an will do great for my long growing season here. They will just be very very late seasom tomatoes.

Mrs j


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RE: Say No to wood chips (tomato killer)

Landarc...I agree. I just vaguely remember reading something that spoke to the issue of wood to compost/fertilizer ratios and my recolection may be wrong. Here they cover fields with woodshavings abd I am presuming *but have never asked) that they are adding fertilizer/compost is bigger proportions. We have huge spots that look like snow but are in fact, alkali. Sometimes, the farmers will dump a giant hill on the spot and leave it set for 2 years. Then they come back and remove most of it and the alkali is really just about gone.

As we had a big horse breeding operation, we have huge piles of woodshavings mixed with manure taken from stalls that are all several years old (like 10+). I use them on my garden and have not had a problem. But, our soil is bizzarro with alkali and bentonite and perhaps that is why I have been able to utilize them.

I will spend some time looking to see if there is newer literature on the adding of wood products to soil.


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RE: Say No to wood chips (tomato killer)

The Tomatoes I have been transplanting are taller than I am. They have tomatoes on them an will do great for my long growing season here. They will just be very very late season tomatoes.

My, that must have been a really big hot job, but probably well worth it to same them. Good for you! I could never have done it, I don't think, in the summer heat. I just don't take it nearly as well as in my younger years.

Sue


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RE: Say No to wood chips (tomato killer)

Mrsjustice

Do you mean OAK tree? I have never heard of and cannot find reference to an OAT tree.


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RE: Say No to wood chips (tomato killer)

Do you mean OAK tree? I have never heard of and cannot find reference to an OAT tree.

Yes, sorry everyone!!!

It's were a very large OAK Tree, almost 60 feet.


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RE: Say No to wood chips (tomato killer)

Thank Goodness...I was searching all over the net trying to find out something about Oat trees....but kinda hated to ask.

Glad that's solved.


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RE: Say No to wood chips (tomato killer)

Dear Landarc

Jugalone producing plants may be harmful to Heirlooms sence they are mostly from our late History 1700's or older.

Creative Heirlooms or Heirlooms from a cross or hybrid may have a better chance with Jugalone.

Do you think the ground cover helped any if oak trees jugalone?

I used Kentucky Blue Grass Seeds for good Luck, Amen!!!

Mrs J


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to all

So far I have research Jugalone and Caprilic Acid which is common to the lack Walnut tree, and have found that Oak chips are mostly used in children play grounds with the only problem being "Mushroom Growth".

That concerns me, because I have notice mushroom growth around area's of wood chips last summer, dark brown in color and very small. That means that I might have a fungus problem vs an jugalone problem. Thor, the funniest thing with this scenario, is Black walnut leafs in a tea form will help kill the fungus growth from the Oak Wood Chips.

If this one report was right, than once your use the Jugalone tea tokill the fungus, you will also kill your tomato plants.

So this solution is only for oak wood chips used in play grounds.

This research did not help me with a solution to my dirt problem but, it gives me a safe feeling, that Jugalone may not be present in oak wood chips.

Please post you research everyone.


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RE: Say No to wood chips (tomato killer)

Black Walnut shavings used in horse stalls causes them to founder really bad and many have to be put down.. One shaving place in California got sued because they were sent to a big Thoroughbred farm mixed with pine and several horses had to be destroyed. Also, I used to tan hides. You use oak bark for that because it is very high in tannin. You soak the skins in tubs with oak bark chips for a couple of days. That also give the leather that warm brown coloring.

A lot of different woods are not as benign as folks might think.


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RE: Say No to wood chips (tomato killer)

Canadian researchers from Laval University have been studying the effects of wood chips on agricultural soil for about 20 years. Although the Canadians were mainly concerned with the use of nutrient rich wood from chipped branches (RCW-Ramial Chipped Wood), a long term study of soil amended with whole tree wood chips was carried out in New York in the 1960s to look at the effect on vegetables, including tomatoes. In these cases wood chips from hard woods showed a long term positive effect on the soil. The Canadians found that chips from mature forest species, especially Oak, showed the best results on crop growth and long term soil quality on crops ranging from strawberries to potatoes and grains. This was attributed to the positive effects the wood decomposing fungal community had on the soil chemistry and soil food web. So mushrooms are good. Research found that incorporating 1.5 inches of ramial wood chips into the top 5 inches of soil gave the best results, with reduced tendency to pull nitrogen from the soil the first year IF incorporated the Fall before Spring-Summer planting.


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RE: Say No to wood chips (tomato killer)

Dear Rokenbar

I thank you for your knowledge of Black Walnut trees affect on horses, which I reading research of it's negative affect on live shock last night.

I am so thankful that My Oak Trees chips and their Terry Marsh fungus I Identify through researching last night will be helpful to my tomatoes in the long run.

in my conclusion of my research, I have listed web site below from last night. shows forth that eastern part of large land may have received to mush terry marsh, because that part of my large land received the top of my " Oak wood chips mountain" changing the ph balance which killed the tomatoes plant in that location.

So going by the footage, I will need about 50 bags of process cow manure, to bring up the ph balance in the location for next year, Amen!!

Mrs. J
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Dear Spiced_ham

Thank you for your research, because you explained it in a way that I can truly understand all that researching I did last night, because most of the Universities Research was over my head.

Notice I founded a web sit that helped me identify the brown mushrooms from oak wood chips called terry marsh, narrowed down my research. I am so glad "jugalone producing plants and trees like Black Walnut" is not my problem Amen!!

Its also good to know that there is good fungus that help plant growth.

Here is a link that might be useful: Terry Marsh pro's and con's


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RE: Say No to wood chips (tomato killer)

Here, we are just plain old home gardeners, not soil scientists. Have been mulching our tomatoes with cedar bark mulch straight from the big box store for years. We grow great tomatoes without many problems. Also use raised beds with moderate amounts of compost added yearly.Just thought I would post as there may be other simple folk like me out there who are worried about using bark mulch.


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RE: Say No to wood chips (tomato killer)

Dear Sconticut

Thanks: I will take your commit in a positive light, Amen!!

I learned everything I know from the Professionals here many many years on this forum, when I was finally able to grow tomatoes and can them.

At one time there were many scientists here, and times they would debate every point of view of a subject involving every area in the tomato field. But, I learned from those's heated debates, and have a great "tomato forum love" for all of them, Amen!!

I feel like a soil scientist, after all this research to understand a problems.

This is my way of giving back, and hope someone learn from my mistakes, especially, with the fresh oak wood chips.

Cedar Bark is very good, and fall leaves are very good too, because of the naturally drying process.

Trust me, I am one of these simple folk, just too trusting at times, like this wood chip situation.


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RE: Say No to wood chips (tomato killer)

Interestingly, I have grown some nice tomatoes this year by layering my large 7 to 15 gallon pots with 25% fresh wood chips. The chips didn't harm my tomatoes, because of how they were used.

I lay down 1" wood chips inside, then 1" chicken manure which is high nitrogen, then 1" shredded paper which is high carbon, then 1" shredded leaves or grass which is more nitrogen. Then I repeat the wood 1", chicken manure 1", shredded paper 1", leaves and grass 1".. etc

I repeat these layers till the pot is nearly full, then put in my tomato seedling, and fill the top 6" of the pot with pure earthworm compost.

There is lots of nitrogen in this process, so even if the wood chips "steal" nitrogen the plants still do OK. Besides, I also feed compost tea (a nitrogen source) to my tomato plants at regular intervals.

This is a lot like lasagna gardening. And since the worm compost I add contains worms and worm eggs, the layers are gradually eaten (composted) over the growing season by the worms, which improves the soil.

I highly recommend you look into worm composting. It's a great way to produce excellent, cheap natural fertilizer.

No dead tomatoes from using wood chips here! It's all in how the wood chips are used. :)


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RE: Say No to wood chips (tomato killer)

I used pine wood shavings from a planer on my garden this year and it is working great. Note that I used them as MULCH and did not incorporate them into the soil. So far, they are the best mulch I have ever used. I don't see any negative, other than tracking them into to the house. :-) I also use fertilizer to insure I have no N issues.
JMO,
Tom


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RE: Say No to wood chips (tomato killer)

Dear Grovespirit & Tomakers

The pile of wood chips were about 9 feet high and 15 feet wide, as to way, I described it as a Mountain. I did locate an area of my land for the wood chips to slowly use as Mulch, but through miss-communications the company put the wood chips in the area I grow my black tomatoes.

It was a hard job just getting down to the tomato baskets berried under the pile. .

The black tomatoes will be very late, but is growing because that area was located at the bottom of the pile, producing much good alkali for the black tomatoes to grow, along with the help of different plants foods drops.


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RE: Say No to wood chips (tomato killer)

Glad the black tomatoes survived. That's a blessing! :)

I think if a tree chipping company put a giant wood chip pile somewhere I didn't want it, I would ask the supervisor to have the crew come back and move it for me.

Or if that did not work out, I might have just left most of the pile alone, after the black tomatoes were un-buried.

Later I would have *gradually* removed chips from the bottom of the pile a little at a time, for use in compost piles, or for use in lasagna gardening. :)

Wood chips can also be used in any compost bin, especially in a large scale worm compost bin. If you don't have a worm compost bin, they are a great idea for farmers. Many farmers in my area do worm composting. Worm composting produces rich compost that is great for starting seeds or using as bloom booster, and you can sell excess worms as fishing bait or sell them to other gardeners.


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RE: Say No to wood chips (tomato killer)

Dear, Grovespirit

Sorry it took so long to reply, but I fanilly got my "deep clean Monday house clenaing back.

The supervisor was very nice on dealing with other problems I was having with security of gate and fence down leaving my property open in two areas, which was my mean concern, but I was mad at the location of those wood chips was placed, and just worked very hard to get the pile down. I am glad the Black tomatoes is growing in that location to, but they are very late in season.

The supervisor, gave me 50.00 off that smaller tree we had cut down in large pieces, but If I have to do it all over again, my answer would have be "NO Save The Oak Trees", Amen!!.

To avoid this nightmare again, I will not negotiating with-out my Hubby. He stills takes assignments, which make's negotiating as a woman very hard, with no respect as times.

I feel many companies have that one employee's who have no respect for people.

It's good to know, in the long run, wood chip will improve soil.


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RE: Say No to wood chips (tomato killer)

Just as a side note...At least where I live, the commercial tree trimming outfits now have to pay to dump their loads of chipped bark/branches/leaves at the local dump. When I catch them in town, I let them bring me all they want. I have piles that have been setting for varying periods of time...1 that is 6 years old and others a year or two. I do use the wood chips as mulch on the beds that contain foundation plantings as well as around my trees. Sometimes, the comercial chipping is pretty large so I run batches through my own chipper shredder to make them a lot smaller. Also, as I said before, if there are any of you living in areas with a lot of fossil fuels, you probably have alkali (I think some people don't know how many oil wells there are in Wyoming.) Wood chips just suck the alkali right out of the soil. If you take a visit to any local horse ranches or stables, they would GLADLY fill your truck up with shavings/manure mix...they are trying to get rid of their piles all the time. The usual mix is way more manure than shavings as they pick through removing the manure and trying to leave any clean bedding behind.


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RE: Say No to wood chips (tomato killer)

A ship load of manure is what I need now. It may be good to visit the local horse farm in my area.

Is cow manure better than horse manture?


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RE: Say No to wood chips (tomato killer)

Dear Brokenbar

I put that question to one of my boys: Is cow munure beeter than horse manture, and got an answer.

The only manure that they would help me with, needs to be in bags.

I guess I will stick with bagged cow manure until I can hired help, Amen!!

I thank you all for the needed information and (mature & oak wood chip formula.

I will make a list of all the plant food I used to get plants growing great, as soom as possible.

Remembering 9/11 on this day, Amen!!

May God Bless America


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RE: Say No to wood chips (tomato killer)

Cow manure is really hot and must be well composted. Horse manure is way less hot and breaks down fairly rapidly all though you do get some weed seeds because horses are not ruminants so some seeds make it through the gut intact.

Because we ran a Stallion station, shipping and receiving semen from other states, we would have an average of 150 mares/stallions here at one time so manure was never in short supply. Most horse owners that stall their horses use wood shavings because straw, especially once it has been peed on by something that pees over a gallon at a time, is heavy and stinky. For those facilities short on space or within city limits , they get hard pressed to get rid of the daily loads of stall debris. Stalls are cleaned every day (sometimes 2X a day) so as one can imagine, it piles up in a hurry.

We have unlimited space so we ran about 10 piles of stall debris at a time. My hubby would take the tractor and using the bucket, spread the oldest piles out to about 1 foot deep and then using the bucket, re-pile them back up, about every two weeks. I ran the disc on the tractor over it once in a while too. As it started to break down well, I rototilled in 2 or 3 times a month. By the time I used it, it was just fabulous...nice and light and fluffy and the wood shavings had broken down to almost be invisible.

Honest, if you can find a boarding facility or a breeder anywhere near you, they are usually thrilled to have you take as many loads as you want. Also, horse manure does not stink like cow manure. I should also mention that goat, sheep or rabbit manure is really good too. I have a friend that grows world champion Iris's. He will only use goat manure.

So there you have it...more than anyone should know about manure!


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RE: Say No to wood chips (tomato killer)

Thank you for the Horse Manure Education

I am sure that all new Tomatoes Growers will learn from your knowledge of horses. I know you and your Hubby has beautiful Horses at your Stallion station.

You are very loving person, Amen!!


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RE: Say No to wood chips (tomato killer)

Mrs J

I use fresh wood chips (maple and oak trees) all the time and I can tell you a few things:

I'm not too surprised that your toms didn't grow too well in the first year you tilled the chips in. Chips will suck all the nitrogen right out of the soil in the beginning.

The big "BUT" is that, in later years, the chips do rot down and make absolutely beautiful soil. Next year, you may still see rather poor growth and you may need to add some nitrogen, but I would guess that in the following year, everything will be AOK.

If the wood chips really did mess up the soil pH, I expect that will also correct itself. If your soil is naturally very acidic, however, you should keep in mind that it will always be trying to get itself back to acidic. That's just where some soil wants to be. The soil in my garden is also that way - great for blueberries!

I also use a lot of horse manure because that's what we have around here and it's free. I dump it, fresh and steaming hot (yuck!) on top of the soil in the autumn and winter when it doesn't smell and doesn't attract flies (or neighbors). By spring, it's ready to be turned into the soil. I also keep a pile of manure mixed with stall bedding in the back where it composts quietly. When I need some mulch, I use that.

Both the tree chips and the stall bedding give me a lot of volunteer mushrooms. As far as I can tell, they don't hurt anything.


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RE: Say No to wood chips (tomato killer)

Dear Leslies

I can not wait untill my P. H. balance return to normal, after all of those years of getting it perfect to grow my tomatoes, along with the money my husband an I invested in the large extra property connected to my back yard.

I was not invited to our City first farmer market, which contain farmers from out-side of our city.

It is very important to me, to be at this farmer market next year for all people to enjoy our Historical Tomatoes saved by USDA and people like Dr. Carolyn,etc. It will take a lot of work to get open area ready for next year, and I pray that it will not take years.

I am very thankful that Reimer Seeds sent me a gift of their Rootblast growth formula along with the heirloom seeds I brought b/c I was able to save two heirlooms variety, like my Red zebra and stones as the problems started showing in my heirlooms plants. But I ran out.

I had to find other plant foods to focus on the roots growth problems over night.

I took "Trudi" advice fan pulled dying plants that could not be saved. What a mess!!!!

Thank God, I plants the extra heirlooms in the shade, and transplanted them once I was able to restore soil PH balance in the raisen beds areas.

I do plan on looking into Horse Manure.

The Mushrooms from my wood chips are called Terry March which is good for all plants, after it brake downs.

Mrs. J


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RE: Say No to wood chips (tomato killer)

I am glad I found this post. I have a pile of rotten wood chips that the utility left for me about three years ago. It is beautiful crumbly stuff about the color of peat moss. I am sure there would have been some walnut in this. They were trimming all trees 15 feet back from the wires, so it is a mixture of every kind of tree in the area. How long will the walnut chemical remain. I am using this for mulch on paths but it looks good enough to add as a soil conditioner.


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