[permaculture] Re: Branches and small diameter wood

Scott Pittman pci at permaculture-inst.org
Wed Mar 26 13:17:36 EST 2003

I am fortunate to have a landfill that will chip my trimmings and reload it 
in my truck gratis.  I use these chips for walkways in the garden and to 
mulch fruit trees.  I am concerned about bringing home disease or bugs from 
someone elses' garden, but, knock on wood, hasn't happened yet.  It takes a 
few years for this to break down further even tho it is in the wet zone of 
our kitchen garden, worms seem to prefer it under the walkways of chipped 
wood to the straw mulch of the planting beds.  The soil under the walkways 
is richer than the beds after three years, but we are not mining the 
nutrients of this zone with plants. Perhaps I should rotate the beds and 

Small diameter wood is perfect for the Russian Stove, and allows the small 
homesteader to become self sufficient in fuel wood.  To revisit an old 
topic on this list Jean Paine developed a system of creating wood alcohol 
from his wood chips as well as heating his house with the heat generated 
from composting his chipped branches.  His book is wonderful but a little 
too large scale for the small landholder.

I also clean up the small branches and store them for use as tomato 
baskets, trellises, and to make shade structures (ramadas - rama being 
branch in Spanish) for greens and peas.  They can also be used to create 
bundles that work as surface swales when laid on contour, not as efficient 
as earth swales but in a broad steep landscape work well.  They also create 
wonderful habitat for ground birds when piled up, a few thorny branches of 
Russian Olive, Rose, or raspberry on the perimeter help fight off coon, 
skunk, and coyote who love bird eggs.


At 01:56 AM 3/26/03 -0500, you wrote:
>line the walkways between my raised kitchen garden beds with corrugated c=
>ardboard to keep the weeds down. I just walk on top of the cardboard; there=
>'s no wood chips to make it look pretty. A single layer of cardboard on the=
>  ground lasts more than one season.
>I would love to get good at reducing branches and small diameter wood into =
>useful material. There's a dozen tree trimmers who would love to haul me lo=
>ads on a daily basis this time of year thru fall. Right now it all goes to =
>the landfill. Short of chipping it and spreading as mulch, we use it for an=
>imal habitat. I've got enough rabbits, could use more snakes other than rat=
>12" annual precip
>USDA zone 5
>90 days frost free
>7400 feet elevation

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