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February 16, 2013

Planting Vegetables in Wood Chips

I am trying something new. Instead of planting in soil, I am plating in wood chips. I did not plan it like that, it just sort of happened. I had a new set of raised beds built, but did not have soil for them. Then, after some research, I found that the beds can be filled with free wood chips that the power company delivers. The plan was thus born. I had a huge pile of wood chips delivered to my front yard, and there I went. Loading wheel barrows of chips and loading my new raised beds.

The wood chips themselves are not just pieces of wood, there are also chopped up small green twigs and even some palm leaves. That is a good mixture, although a bit poor on nitrogen (green matter), but still not totally devoid of this important nutrient.

Next thing I did was to seed some legumes. I am preparing this bed for the Spring planting of tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. So the fast maturing legumes will serve as a cover crop. I planted the whole bed of black beans, just sprinkled with soil on the top of the seeds. Here they are starting to sprout:

And the rest of the beds I planted with cowpeas with the intention of tilling them in. I left a portion of the bed completely with no soil, as my test bed. Looks like cowpeas do not care if they don't have the soil. They are sprouting just as nicely:

I have cardboard on the bottom of these beds. Once cardboard rots it will allow the roots of my vegetables to penetrate even deeper into the soil below, under the decomposed wood chips. I do expect this whole concoction to pack down very heavily, but then I can always call the power company and have another load of wood chips to be delivered and added to these beds. 

I am very hopeful of this growing method, and in fact if this goes well, my next plan is to raise all my existing beds and add piles of wood chips to them.


  1. Interesting concept. Looking forward to see the results.

  2. Very cool. I live in zone 9A, too. Can you tell me how to order the wood chips from the power company?

  3. Your company might be different than mine. Ours is Lakeland Electric, I called them, they have a form on the website that you print and then Fax or mail to them.



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