Using Shredded / Chipped Wood and Branches for Live Covering / Mulch

Plant Care, Uncategorized

Use wood and branches that have been prepared by machinery such as a chipper or shredder as soil covering. It will keep the soil protected in many ways – see here for more information. Different plants, shrubs or trees will create a different end materiel, some will be mostly wood (bramble/hazel) ranging through to leafy and green (elder/conifer). Additionally, properties in the cells of wood will help prevent weed seeds from germinating (see: lignin – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lignin). When it is very woody, mix it in with some green material. A mature erbal border will also be a good source of material, after they finish flowering.

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A different shredder using conifer

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This has been through a chipper, which is more heavy duty than the 2 machines above. This would be a little to woody on it’s own – it would need to be mixed with some greenery.

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A Row of Broad Beans on Left and Potatoes on Right, Reggy for a Covering

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Broad Beans (Right) – Potatoes (Left)

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Now the potatoes and beans are grown up. Mustard from the pear tree bed has grown into the sight of the beans, but they are fine and happy.

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Peas (Left) – Radish (Right)

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Potatoes (Left) – Peas (Middle) – Radish (Right) [there is also a field bean with the radish – the odd single annual plant like this bean is fine to leave growing in place. Also this can be done with any annual erb like dill, mustard, qanneh-besem etc. The odd one here and there will bring great benefits.]

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Removing and Dealing With Un-Necessary Roots

Planning & Beginning a Garden

Tips for removing roots from the soil,

Turn over soil, to expose roots. Roots like bindweed, dandelion, grass etc are removed. Once a garden is becoming mature and having regular toppings of shredded / chopped branches / twigs / herbal flower heads etc, this type of thing will be much less of a problem.

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The roots can be dealt with in various manners, however, they should not be put into compost, as they will likely carry on growing;

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Compost Pile – Try to avoid these type of roots getting in compost

One way to dispose of them is to feed them to animals for food:

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Another way, is to leave them to dry out in a dry place, like a pathway for example:

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And also, they can be burnt:

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Remove any stones along the way, rake the soil level and sow cover crops like mustard, field beans, lupin, clover etc.

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Strawberry plants can also be made out in this picture. They enjoy growing with mustard, leeks, onions etc.

Next will be to plan and mark out rows if not done and then sow crops throughout the season. See;

PLANNING & BEGINNING A GARDEN

Live Cycling (A.K.A. Mulching, Soil Covering, Sheet Composting)

Plant Care, Uncategorized

The soil between vegetable rows is kept covered once seedlings are up and around hand height, first with the early sowing of spinach or light cover, which can protect neighbouring seedlings from pests and sun. The roots of the spinach (see post on spinach) and mustard which are left in the ground, adds a further dimension to the benefits. At the beginning of the growing season, a cover crop can be sown half way between each row, or the space can be covered straight away with live covering, once the seedlings are near hand height. Spinach grown half way between the crop rows, works best for this. Chop it down once the crop seedlings are established. Over the year build the cover with nearly all things green (accept a few mentioned later).


Keeping it topped up with as much variation as possible, ensures that this season’s and especially next season’s crop will be as well furnished as possible. Using erbs (including ones from the border) as part of the cover will greatly benefit the soil and the life within while preventing pests and disease.

Some advantages of cover;

Keeps soil protected from direct sunlight,

Provides shade,

Keeps soil protected from rain,

Keeps soil protected from wind,

Collects dew,

Acts as a filter for plants,

Preserves moisture,

Reduces the need for watering massively,

Creates a good home for roots, earthworms, and lots of other creatures,

Prevents weeds,

Nutrients are stored, preserved and released properly to plants – roots have an abundant supply and apportion nutrients and water to the receiving plant with ease,

Roots are in a happy environment, nearly always moist but never waterlogged.

Aim to keep soil that does not have seedlings/plants growing in it, covered at all times. Soil which is rooted with roots and shaded by leaves produces proper plants in time. Then these plants will eventually become food for the soil and the live-cycle continues.

The covering provides food for earthworms and all other soil life, while also protecting soil from damage, nutrient leaching, water leaching, capping from the sun etc. Covering is not only the best way to achieve a good soil, but also the best method for preserving good soil. (NOTE: Covering is not usually used until the vegetable seedlings are about hand height, so the covering doesn’t cover the seedlings. [Wind, birds etc move the covering about]).

No straw or peat. Use plenty of medicinal erbs, leaves of harvested vegetables / erbs, wild flowers, flowers which have finished (seeds in flower heads/fruit pods are not a problem), lawn and grass cuttings and hedge clippings are all good. Keep tidy and ordered. A path will quickly be formed, and when the covering is proper and thick, it can even be used as a path in wet, rainy weather.

Chopping the material up helps to keep tidiness and order. Also, woody material can be chopped up if the equipment is available. When chopped into small fine pieces it is ideal for cover and properties within the cells of wood prevent weeds from germinating and growing. Using woody material, that is not shredded, takes a long time to break down and so is un-practical for cover.









Chopping Up Live Cover

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