Way back when I learned to garden, I never would have considered using wood chips for mulch. As far as I knew, it was a ‘no-no’. I’m not sure exactly how I ‘knew’ that, but I have some ideas as to the logic.
When I was learning to garden, I lived on an island on the coast. There was forest all around—lots of it. The soil was pretty acid to begin with, low on the pH scale. Using woodchips would have contributed to the acidity. For another thing, people weren’t in the habit of falling trees in their yard and chipping them up, so no easy supply. Also, there were other materials to use in plenty. One particular favourite was seaweed, washed up on shore after a high-tide storm, and collected the day after when the tide was low.
After moving inland–no seaweed here, alas–I scratched my head and wondered where I was going to get good gardening material. I got in the habit of buying straw in square bales, and then more recently in bigger, more economical, round bales.
One day there was a brushing crew working nearby to clear the trees close to the power lines, and they were chipping the downed material into a big truck to haul away. I went down to ask if I could get some chips from them and they were more than happy to dump a load at my place–free! Saved them time in hauling. And, bonus, I was going to get some benefit from having to listen to the nasty sound of the chipper working some yards away from my peaceful garden.
Ok, I got me a big pile of chips, now what? I’d heard they might be ok to use, but was still hesitant. When I did the research, I came up with some pretty solid-sounding info. So I’ve used them. Not so much in the vegetable garden, but around bushes and trees, and to make paths, and for perennial beds. So far so good. People still question me. ‘Don’t they bring ants?’ ‘Will the piles spontaneously combust?’ I don’t have definitive answers. But I like what I see so far. What do you think?