We have been getting woodchips delivered from a local tree company. We signed up with chipdrop and got nothing for a few months. We decided to try the option of paying a little bit of money for the drop and suddenly we got 6 truck loads. We are not sure exactly how much it was but are guessing something like 75 yards. We are still trying to get them all spread but we have made a considerable dent in the pile.
We started using them on some of the raised beds we made. We built the beds like swales with a trench on the uphill side on contour and a berm on the downhill side for the bed. We constructed the beds by covering the grass with cardboard, then placing the material removed from the uphill side on the cardboard on the downhill side then covering that with a 50/50 mix of topsoil and compost. We then shredded leaves and covered the soil and finally placed a couple inches of woodchips on top. They look pretty good, as you can see in the following pictures, and they do seem to catch water well.
We were getting a lot of water running off the grass here onto the driveway and during the last severe rain, two inches, we had no problem with that and the swales were full. So far the only thing planted in these is garlic. We put in a variety of types, 130 cloves altogether lining both sides of each bed. They are starting to sprout in the two beds that get more sun. The beds on the other side of the walkway are shaded by the house all day now and there is no sprouting there. It will be interesting to see the difference in the results next year.
We also created a much longer bed in the same style on the far corner of the yard. The plan is to transplant some raspberries there once they lose all their leaves this winter. We are not sure exactly how well that will work since the southeast side behind this is uphill and we have some trees planted there, 3 apple trees (Pink lady, Enterprise and Gala) and a peach tree. We also have 4 blueberry bushes and a butterfly bush. We think the raspberries will be fine since they will get full sun most of the summer because of how high in the sky the sun is. We will see. If it turns out to be a mistake we can move them. We prepared this bed just like the others and woodchipped the entire area above with a thick layer of chips as you can see in the picture below. We have also started sprinkling some coffee grounds over the woodchips on this hill and intend to do that everywhere the chips are to add some nitrogen to help them break down more. We have been getting coffee grounds from the super friendly owners of our local coffee shop Stone Werks; they have delicious pastries to go along with the great coffee too!
The next place we hauled the woodchips to was the west side of our new minibarn. We just covered this area with chips, no fancy swales or anything. We currently have a thornless blackberry planted there as well as a chocolate mint, spearmint, thyme, and oregano. Hopefully we will be able to fill this area in with the blackberries eventually.
The last place we are working on is on the south side of the house. The plan is to have a food forest here as well as shade trees for the house. We currently have 5 shade trees around this side of the house but they are very small right now. There is a basswood, silver maple, two box elders, and a red sunset maple. Farther from the house to the south, we planted a dual fruit grafted plum, an almond, and another peach tree. The idea here is we have the taller shade trees north of the others so they still get sun and we create an edge where we will be able to grow much more under them over time. We are putting woodchips all along this side and are making good progress as you can see from these pictures. We will let these begin to work and plant more here later.
We have some other plans in the works but this is enough for one post. The plan is to try to post updates weekly or so with what progress we are making on projects. The kids are also looking into how to get an email list going so people can be notified when a new post is uploaded.