Using ramial wood chips in the garden
This document provides key information for nourishing your growing produce by using ramial wood chips. It also speaks of not needing to crop rotate..
The Importance of Mycorrhizal Fungi
Mycorrhizal fungi have the ability to form a network and symbiotic relationship with the roots of growing plants as well as the bacterial in the soil. It turns out that this is a key for boosting the production and health of a plant, significantly increasing the ability of the roots to uptake nutrients from the soil, (because in essence, the fungi act as an additional root structure for the plant they are connected to and they interact with the bacteria which supply growth mediums required by the plant). Mycorrhizal fungal growth is supported by the breakdown of woody material, hence forest floors having plentiful amounts of it. To recreate this effect in our gardens we can mulch with wood chips (a Koanga garden plan is provided below). Not just any wood chips though:
-Deciduous is best.
-Dormant wood is preferable.
-No more than 20 percent evergreens in the mix.
-The smaller the branch the higher the nutrient proportion.
Please see this excellent article from Koanga for more information:
Using Ramial wood chips in the garden
Here is a talk posted to Facebook by Kay Baxter of Koanga Gardens speaking of Ramial wood chips and garden planning - https://www.facebook.com/KoangaInstitute/videos/714943356300128
Notes from the talk above on Ramial Chip and No Crop Rotation
- Ramial wood chip is using trees to build soil, working with the understanding that trees are here on this planet to cycle nutrients and we need to work with them.
- An old practise from Europe that uses the last year growth or the growing tips (bark, leaves and all) of European Hardwood trees
- It contains carbon and the new growth is where the trees store the 84 complete minerals that a healthy cell needs to grow, and in the right relationships.
- Kay from Koanga Institute found through soil testing that where she had used ramial wood chip, the minerals and the levels were more balanced than all the beds without. But the biggest observation was that the whole bed was matted together with white fungal hyphae acting like a blanket, joining the roots to the wood chip.
- She also found that there was no need to aerate as the ramial chip held all the air in and therefor turned the beds into a no dig garden that does not compact down because of all the fungi.
- Kay has also recently come across the information confirming that it is better off not to rotate our crops. Crop rotation came about after chemical agriculture in America when they had to deal with pests and disease after using chemicals. As we are no longer in that situation we are better off to not rotate so that the plant can build up its own set of microbes that it connects to
and lives with, rather than reset it.
- Ramial wood chip assists to build the set of microbes for each plant.
- We can work to establish a system (using Koanga’s new garden plan as a guide) that has crops growing after one another that like the same environment e.g a summer crop followed by a winter crop
- As a general rule the ramial wood chip is applied as a mulch in the summer then forked in with nitrogen fixing and/or winter carbon crops.
- It is also helpful to add Ramial wood chip into compost heaps