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Forest to Farm: Chips

Hey guys! Brian and Terry here with another installment in our Forest to Farm series here on Survival Dispatch. When you’re clearing property like we are, there’s one thing that will keep popping up, and that’s cleaning up debris from trees you’ve knocked down. We have literally cleaned up tons and tons of debris. A lot of people would choose to burn the limbs, leaves, and smaller trees; but there’s a much better use for it, at least on our farm. Even though it is a lot of work, we choose to chip up all of the debris. A lot of people would say to process the stuff up to 12 inches as firewood and sell it. We initially considered it, but we work full time jobs and are making this project happen in our free time. We don’t have time to process all of the logs into firewood, make room to store it, and try to sell it. It’s just too much hassle, plus we truly want to enrich the soil we have here and make it as viable as we can for growing our crops. Wood chips are a great way to do that. 

This wood chip pile is about 5 months old. It’s not really usable as compost in this state, but what you can see here is one of its many benefits. We haven’t had rain for about 3 weeks and the temperature has been in the high 80’s to 90 degrees. The pile is obviously dry on top, but just a couple inches down the wood chips are literally wet with moisture. They are a great natural sponge that will help your gardens retain water, even as they decompose. 

This pile is a few years old and look at how much difference there is. The wood chips have turned into a great compost. The pile is also like the newer one in that it’s dry on top, but just under the surface it is very moist and this one if full of life. This pile has worms, grubs, bugs, spiders, etc. living in it. The pile of raw wood chips has turned into its own little vibrant ecosystem. Why go by compost when you can start making your own that will be MUCH more viable than what you buy in a bag at a big box store. One thing to keep in mind with wood chips is that the type of trees you have in the pile will affect what is planted in it. For instance, our piles have a lot of pine in them. Pine is very acidic and is great for blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, etc. If you plan to have a variety of gardens you are using your chips in, you might want to separate everything before you chip. Pines/acidic woods in one pile and hardwoods in another for the rest of your garden area. We have accumulated several piles of woodchips since starting this process and it’s all in varying stages of decay. When we get our gardens started, we will have phenomenal compost and soil to feed it with. Once we get to establishing the gardens, we will take you through our processes for everything we are doing.

Chipping is definitely a lot of work, but it’s great exercise and gives you a pile of organic nutrients to feed your gardens.We hope you enjoyed this post and found some valuable information for your gardening adventures. Thanks for watching and check back soon as we keep making progress on the property. Next up, we need to start getting these stumps out of the way so we can get a driveway laid out!

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