Wood chip paths

by Jane Moore

I'm rather proud of the plot at the moment. It's weeded, fed, mulched and manured, the potatoes are in and the beds are ready. Best of all, I've just top dressed my paths with lovely wood chips.

Wood chippingsI'm rather proud of the plot at the moment. It's weeded, fed, mulched and manured, the potatoes are chitted and in, and the beds are ready. Best of all, I've just top dressed my paths with lovely wood chips, which set the whole thing off to a 'T'.

Even my neighbour Vic commented on the beauty of it all. Encouraging and cheerful though he is, he's not overly free with his praise (although he can get quite carried away about a nice cabbage).

Pete the Tree delivered a load of fresh, clean wood chips (mostly ash, he informed me) to the plot, and I spent two hours shovelling it into the wheelbarrow, carting it to the plot and tipping it onto my paths. Thirty four wheelbarrows later and the plot is a radiant vision. The golden wood chips suppress weeds and provide a lovely, springy, dry surface to walk on. This means I don't need to don my wellies if I've just nipped up to harvest a few vegetables for lunch.

You can't top dress beds with fresh wood chips as they leach nitrogen from the soil during decomposition, but they are ideal for paths. We first applied wood chip to the plot three years ago - it's lasted all this time, and only now needs replenishing. I think I can manage thirty odd wheelbarrows every few years in the name of beauty!

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Gardeners' World Web User 20/04/2008 at 20:09

We too are lucky enough to have wood chips delivered free to our allotment. I usually put weed suppressant membrane under the paths but wonder if just a thick layer of chips would be enough to keep the weeds away?

Gardeners' World Web User 22/04/2008 at 08:24

I was lucky enough to have a mate who was chopping down a behemoth of a conifer and another mate who has a chipper, got the whole done in a day and all for free!!

Gardeners' World Web User 22/04/2008 at 11:36

If you have a plot on a council run allotment, try contacting them. They often have wood chips to get rid of from their maintenance activities and will deliver a trailer load to your allotment for nothing. Also don't waste the old chips when they start to break down after a few years. If you have put a membrance down, then carefully rake off the big chips on the top, and you will find a wonderful barky compost underneath that can be dug straight into the ground, or used as a mulch.

Gardeners' World Web User 22/04/2008 at 11:39

Hi I am looking for some advice if possible. Many schools now have a mini allotment for the children which is fab and the kids love it. Of course term finishes on 18th July which brings to an end our growing season. I just wondered which veg and fruit could mature quickly for cropping before then. We are doing salad - radishes - peas - any other ideas or a range of seeds which would be good? I had heard of 10 week veg or was I confused?! Hope someone can help. Thanks.

Gardeners' World Web User 22/04/2008 at 13:04

Last year I put just chippings down on my pathways and found that the weeds eventally came through just as thick and fast. Always one who prefers something for nothing - rather than buying membrane, I found large strips of tought plastic bagging (I was lucky enough to find some unused bags at work on a roll which we cover kitchen products, but something like compost bags will work). I put small holes in it for drainage, before covering with chippings (delivered free by our local council gardening contractor).

This has worked fine. The only thing is a few blades of grass seem to be working their way out between the raised bed and the pathway but so few its not worth worring about.

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