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Composting Wood Chips

by Paul
(Dalton, PA)

I have a small wood chipper and would like to add the chips to my compost pile but they don’t break down fast enough, what can I do to use these chips?

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Jan 25, 2012
Harness the Power of Fungi
by: Compost Junkie Dave

Hi Paul,

When you say the wood chips aren’t breaking down fast enough, what do you mean? Also, what else are you putting into the pile to balance out the huge amounts of carbon that you’re adding with the wood chips?

In order to break down any woody structures effectively in a compost pile (and soil for that matter), you’re going to need a thriving fungal population. Wood is high in lignin and cellulose, and when it comes to decomposing these materials, fungi are king! There are several ways to increase the fungal component of your compost:

1. Stop turning it – constant turning of your compost pile physically chops your fungal strands.

2. Add a commercially-sourced fungal inoculant. At this time, I do not want to make any specific product recommendations. I will in the future, but only after verifying these products actually do what they claim to do.

3. Inoculate your existing compost with a proven source of fungal-dominated compost. For instance, one of the composts we sell via our site is proven to have extremely high levels of fungi in it. By adding this to your pre-existing compost, your wood chips will break down much more quickly…assuming the other conditions for making high-quality compost are met (proper ingredients, moisture and oxygen levels).

4. Brew a fungal-dominated compost tea and apply it on a weekly basis to your compost pile. This option will only be effective if you’ve used the proper compost ingredients to start.

Or you can try any combination of the above.

When all else fails, you can ALWAYS use your wood chips to mulch your gardens. The following is a great article on the benefits of wood chips in the garden – In Praise of Ramial Wood Chips.

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