Preparing to plant an orchard and need advice.

I’m in the southeast and have just had the trees cleared from my land. I plan to have a mulcher come next but I read in “The Holistic Orchard” by Michael Phillips that using mulched evergreens might keep things from growing. I do have a source for wood chips but I doubt I get to pick the wood source. How important is it that my chips have no softwood in them? Is this an absolute injunction or can I get away with a mix or would I be better off sticking with old hay?

Best Answer

  • EarlKelly
    EarlKelly Posts: 230 ✭✭✭
    Answer ✓

    Indeed . I have been using a mix around my fruit trees with no ill effects. Doing it for years. Like you said, get mine from some of my tree removal buddies. You don’t get the option of picking your chips. Works great around my trees. Good luck with your orchard.


  • Linda Bittle
    Linda Bittle Posts: 1,469 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I don't know the answer to your question, but I've found this web site helpful.

  • dottile46
    dottile46 Posts: 437 ✭✭✭

    Hi Owlet! Good question. I think of Paul Gautschi as the father of woodchips with his Back to Eden gardening. He has been a presenter on the Garden Summit; hope you caught his presentation. I've not heard him say you cannot use softwoods. Keep us updated on your progress!

  • drpclarke
    drpclarke Posts: 53 ✭✭✭

    You can absolutely have a mix. I would just recommend not mixing them or tilling them in the dirt. I also pull back the wood chips from the base of the tree a bit in order for the tree to breath.

  • Obiora E
    Obiora E Posts: 517 ✭✭✭✭

    @Owl It's definitely a good book. I have enjoyed what i have read it in thus far. You may see about getting a local arborist, utility, or the like to drop off free wood chips for you (but they will be hot). Let them age and then add them to increase the mycelium and types of it growing in your orchard. What kind of soil do you have and what are you planting?

  • Owl
    Owl Posts: 345 ✭✭✭

    I have tried the local bunch but I’m too rural for anyone, apparently. I’m on a list at where you can request utilities and such drop off chips and choose to pay for their gas money but, after being on the list with quite a bit of incentive money on it, I haven’t heard from anyone in a year and I doubt I will.

    My husband built me a 55 gallon drum compost bin that rotates on a center axis and I’m working on building up the soil with that. Everyone around here sells hay but no one I’ve found does so without using pesticides and herbicides on their fields and fence lines. My soil is extremely acid and clay. A friend does some yard maintenance for a few people around town and he provides me with grass clippings and leaves and pine straw. I’m still using the bags he brought me last fall for mulching and blanketing seeds and, so far, everything has sprouted without a problem except stevia. I have not managed to get anything viable out of the first package of seeds, in spite of trying many.

    I love laying down a blanket of pine straw over a bunch of seeds, watering it in and seeing those new babies popping up out of the straw in a couple of days!