Woodchip for Paths & Compost – Diary of a Rocket Gardener

I’ve mentioned this before, but seeing how much the woodchip on my paths has broken down has prompted me to write about it again.

I have a good lifetime cycle of woodchip going on in my veg garden – a local tree surgeon delivers a load of fresh chippings, and I shovel it all onto the pathways, one wheelbarrow load at a time. The wood chip usually does two years on the paths before it starts to break down. At this point it becomes a lot more friendly to weed seeds and I notice lots of daisies, creeping buttercup and other weeds appearing. I scrape it all up and into a huge pile and leave it to break down further while I replace the paths with new woodchip. After another year the pile of woodchip breaks down to a usable compost and I can use it on the raised beds.

For me, it’s an inexpensive way of sorting the paths and compost – a few loads of woodchip only costs me around £50-£60.

However, one thing I have learnt over time is that the woodchip compost can be difficult for the vegetable plants. I haven’t fully gauged why, but I think it is to do with a lack of nitrogen. Perhaps I’ve been laying it on beds before it has fully decomposed, but where I have only added woodchip compost to beds, the plants have struggled. Where I have mixed the woodchip compost with other compost, or well-rotted manure, the plants have been much happier.

Hopefully this will be good inspiration for someone else looking to sort their allotment out on a budget – if you’re able to do a bit of shovelling and wheelbarrowing every so often, then it is easy enough and quite enjoyable.