Composting Woodchip – it works!

 One of the old guard of UK organic farmers maintains his credential for the soil association by bringing on to the farm ‘nothing but woodchip and certified organic seeds’.

Of course woodchip from trees grown elsewhere implies a gap in the sustainability profile, but the trees are from local domestic gardens and they are said to cover the needs for potting compost which would otherwise be another import to the farm.
This story came to me as I was cutting back some trees and hedges, so I thought I would give it a try! I was told the pile of tree chippings was turned every 3 or 4 months. And that after two years good compost was made.
So after just over two years you can see the result. It works!
The compost heap

 The picture of the compost heap in fact shows 3 ages of composting – the nearest are chippings from the last 6 months or so, while the middle of the heap has chips around 1 year old. The far end it the original pile that is 2+ years on the making.

After 2 years the insect life seems to have moved on

The oldest compost is strangely devoid of insects. While the more recent stuff is quite lively. Indeed watching a infra-red recording of it at night it seems to be in constant motion.

Sieve to make a fine potting compost or use as-is for mulching

What you see here can be sieved to make a fine-ish potting compost or used as-is in planting out as ground conditioning.

Incidentally mulching with uncomposted woodchip is likely to take valuable nitrogen away from plants it is protecting.

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