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Posts tagged wood chips

Compost Tea – Does it Work?

Compost tea is all the rage but does it really work? Research studies so far have produced mixed results. A 2007 meta data review on compost tea by Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott concluded that “Clearly, the science is not strong for aerated tea use on crop plants, much less on lawns, shrubs, and trees”.

There seems to be a lot of work done in this area but much of it is not published in peer reviewed journals and most of it has been done in labs and greenhouses, not in the field. Until the work is repeated in the field we can’t conclude it works in gardens.

The other problem is that controls have been poorly selected. For example, in one study (ref 3) they compared ACT compost tea to water, using lettuce that had been under-fertilized. Guess what, compost tea improved growth. This only proves that adding nutrients, when they are deficient, will improve growth. The study never compared compost tea to adding nutrients in other ways.

In this post I will review one study that compared the use of compost to compost tea.

Effects of compost tea on the growth of trees, by Garden Myths (data from reference 2)

Effects of compost tea on the growth of trees, by Garden Myths (data from reference 2)

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Mulch – How Does It Affect Soil?

Mulching the garden is a very common recommendation. Mulch will reduce the number of weeds and it will hold moisture in the soil but how does mulch affect the quality of soil?

There are lots of claims that mulch improves soil but have you ever seen numbers to validate them? I haven’t either. How exactly does mulch improve soil? It should add organic matter, but how much? It should increase the number of microbes, but is this really true? Unfortunately, almost nobody studies landscapes and gardens because no one will fund the work.

Luckily I was able to find one very good research paper that looked at this exact problem.

Effect of fertilizer and mulch on soil, by Garden Myths (based on reference 1)

Effect of fertilizer and mulch on soil, by Garden Myths (based on reference 1)

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Fungi in Wood Chips

This post, Fungi in Wood Chips, was prompted by a picture and discussion on a Facebook group called Australian Native Plant Enthusiasts (ref #3). The discussion was about the harmful fungi that appeared in wood chip mulch used in children’s playgrounds. Off course they posed no real danger–but people were scared. There are a lot of misconceptions about fungi growing in the garden and this post will look at the truth about fungi in wood chips.

Fungi in Wood Chips

Fungi in Wood Chips

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