Wood chip compost is an excellent addition to your vegetable garden but wood chips can take a long time to break down and turn into compost. The good news is you can speed up the composting process by hot composting which will turn your pile of arborist wood chips into composted wood chips in as quick as several months! We recommend hot composting because it kills weed seeds and sterilizes the organic matter making it safe to use in a garden. Your compost pile will also be creating beneficial microbes that will benefit your soil. Hot composting is the quickest way to compost wood chips and will create a premium gardening material.
Most likely, you just received a free delivery of arborist wood chips from the ChipDrop App. Congratulations! Now let's turn that pile of fresh cut wood chips into composted wood chips! If you haven't yet, you can sign up today to get a free delivery of arborist wood chips! Fresh cut wood chips can be used in your garden as mulch immediately. However, adding a layer of compost below arborist wood chips will help the wood chips benefit your garden immediately. If you have the space and time to compost wood chips, this would be the premium compost! The facility where Paul Gautschi gets his wood chip compost for his vegetable garden has undergone a similar hot composting process as we will be teaching you recreate today.
The hotter a wood chip pile gets, the quicker it composts. When you are hot composting, you may find it useful to use a compost thermometer. This tool will help you maintain the perfect temperature while composting. There are typically three ranges shown on the gauge - warm, active, and hot. If your pile is warm, that means it is time to turn your wood chip pile. The goal is to keep your wood chip pile in the active to hot range which is approximately 100-160 degrees. It also helps you from overheating your pile and drying it out. We recommend REOTEMP Backyard Compost Thermometer that is a high-quality and accurate compost thermometer for backyard gardeners!
HOW TO SPEED UP COMPOSTING
SMALLER WOOD CHIPS COMPOST FASTER
Not all arborist wood chips are chipped to the same size. If you received a load of coarse wood chips, you can run them through a wood chipper to reduce the size. The smaller the wood chip the quicker it will decompose.
BIGGER PILES COMPOST FASTER
Not all deliveries of arborist wood chips are of the same quantity. If you received a bigger pile of wood chips, that is great because they will compost faster! A big, tall pile of wood chips is best!
INCREASE NITROGEN TO CARBON RATIO
Take a look at the ratio of carbon to nitrogen in your wood chip pile. Arborist wood chips have a high carbon to nitrogen ratio that typically is 300:1 or higher. You want to make sure that there is a source of nitrogen in your wood chip pile. You should see green leaves and needles also called "green yard waste." The microbes that break down the wood feed on nitrogen. Therefore, the microbes will be able to work quicker if you have nitrogen. Don't panic if you don't see a lot of green yard waste. You can add excellent sources of nitrogen including animal manure, blood meal, grass clippings, or leaves to your pile.
INCORPORATE OXYGEN AND WATER
Once you have a higher nitrogen to carbon ratio, you will notice almost immediately that your wood chip pile begins to heat up. You may even see steam coming off the pile! This is an excellent sign it is working! Heating up your wood chips is the quickest way to compost wood chips. The only two missing ingredients after carbon and nitrogen are oxygen and water.
1. Oxygen - Although it is not recommended to turn your pile frequently, you can turn your wood chips to aerate the pile which will increase the heat. The goal is to move the material on the outside of the pile into the middle where there is the most heat. Plus, microbes need oxygen.
2. Water - Add water to your wood chip pile enough to make it wet. You don't want to over soak it but you also don't want to dry it out. Microbes need water to survive so make sure they don't get too thirsty.
ADD BACTERIA & FUNGI
Nature is incredible! Fungi and bacteria are the microbes that will naturally find their way into your composting wood chip pile. You may notice mold in your compost pile and this is a wonderful sign that tells you the microbes are working at breaking down the organic matter! You can inoculate your compost pile with fungi.
Most people decompose arborist wood chips into composted wood chips in approximately 6 months. However, there is no set time that we can tell you to compost your wood chips. You need to be actively monitoring the pile to make sure it stays "active" and "hot." There are many factors that influence how long it takes to compost wood chips including where you live, the time of year, the weather, the size of the wood chips, the size of the pile, your nitrogen to carbon ratio, the number of fungi, the type of wood, etc. It is important to be patient.
HOW TO USE COMPOST IN A GARDEN
Once your wood chips have composted, you can add this organic matter to your vegetable garden for superior growth. You will be amazed at the quality of compost you built and how much your fruits and vegetables love growing in compost! Practice the Back to Eden Gardening method and add composted wood chips to your garden.
HOW TO START A VEGETABLE GARDEN