wood chips

I first learned about using wood chips on the garden by a fella named Paul Gautschi from the Back to Eden movie. When we lived in Tennessee, we could get all the wood chips we wanted to and for the stop-dead-in-your-tracks price of FREE!! Yes, there were trees everywhere and the ones with overhanging bows, blown down bark and tornado-twisted trunks were usually cut down and chewed up into chips. Where to put the wood chips?

One day, when working on a video for the worm bin bathtub, I heard some grinding going on down my little road. Sure ‘nuf, a tree company was trimming trees down a 10 (+/-) mile stretch of our tree-lined road. All I had to do was ask and my wish came true. By the day’s end, I had 4 piles of chips delivered from a 20-yard capacity truck…80-yards of chips. You know just as well as I do that 80-yards is just not enough; sooner or later, I’ll run out…I always run out. During the last load the driver asked, “Do you want more?” There was no more room on that side of the fence for more chips.

“SURE I do!” After all, we had another 4 acres on the other side of the fence. “You can bring them back here.” I lead the fella behind the fence and pointed out to the tree-guy where he could put the next few loads. That was OCTOBER.

One mid December evening, I came home from a long day’s work and my mother-in-law had enjoyed a nice sunset there on the back patio. “Are you still getting wood chips?” She asked.

“Well, not since those guys from the tree place brought me those piles of chips a couple of months back.” I said. Truth be known, I had not started moving that 80-yards and I had paid no attention to the few piles they put behind the fence on the “back 40.”

“I saw their truck go back there today and…” I didn’t let her finish. It was now Mid December. Moving across country had created a to-do list that was a mile long. I was so busy with getting settled that I had not been to the “back 40” since I pointed out to the driver where to put them. Piles and piles and PILES of wood chips lined my property’s edge about 100-120 yards down. Each pile totaled about 20 yards. There were dozens and dozens of overlapping piles of wood chips; many were steaming from the decomposing green leaves that were “binding” with the carbon of the wood chips. I couldn’t believe it, I actually had to start turning down wood chips.

Here in Idaho…not so much.

Here in southwestern Idaho, trees are a commodity. There just not that many trees here. So, we pay for our chips. Some companies will give the chips away but I have only received one, free ½ load from a company because they were trimming a tree down the way. One guy said he’d come by but then called and said, “Sorry.” However, with the incitement of a 6-pack and $20 he did show up (they were good chips too).

The company I get my chips from now will deliver 20 yards at a time for $50. That’s not too bad…not too bad at all. One of the earlier tree trimming companies I use to do business with charged $7 a yard and…with my limited 2 yard capacity trailer…making progress was SLOW going.

Now, everything was going pretty smooth during this past summer (2017) with wait times for chips only being a few days if not a week. However, about 2 months ago, the wood chip runs dried up. I’d call the company on Monday and ask for a delivery. “Maybe Friday.” Friday would arrive and not a word. After the Friday lunchtime I’d call, “Maybe not this week. We’ll try next week.”

Finally I had sweetened the deal. “If y’all can bring me two loads TODAY, I’ll tip the driver $50.” At $50 per load, that’s a $150 ticket. You know what’s funny…this is funny…when they finally got time…they called and said we’re coming out this week, “We’re going to be able to come by this week. You said $150 for 20 yards, right?” (I wonder why folks’ memories get all catawampus when money is involved)

Nope. I clarified that I had said I’d tip another 50 bucks if they would make time during that time where they didn’t have much time. You got that, right? For me, the best time to deliver chips is on a Monday of Thanksgiving break (I am a school nurse). Once I started back to school and the temperatures are 20 and 40 degrees, I am less favorable to tipping. Ahhhh…it is what it is. I am up to the winter and need to get that ground covered. So, out goes $150 and in comes 40 yards of wood chips.

Likely I will not order any more chips this season. I will continue doing business with my current tree-trimming company. They are good (and busy) guys.

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I’ve rambled on and on; congratulations on making it this far. Here is a link to a video that I show off a bit of the wood chips (Boy, oh boy!! I sure was fat back then):




  1. Hah! Those cheeky chickens. I love it when they chase for a taster of something! Seeing the demise of a mouse in that manner with a tug of war is quite revolting! LOL!

    Funnily enough we did the same with the artichokes – mainly to keep the girls under shade in the summer (and hope that they didn’t wake the neighbourhood up at the crack of dawn! I used to run down the garden to try and keep them quiet! They are well trained now. Phew! Ours have been cut back now but the girls have plenty of sheltered areas.

    Made an interesting discovery – I was unable to get the small mealworms, but bought some large ones instead. No allergy! Yet! Of course you don’t get as many in the tub but the girls enjoyed. Also waxworms (moth species) go down well with the wild birds and the chickens if you can get them as a treat. Lots of yummy protein!

    As for the tree bugs – ewww, made me itch! We have an artificial tree that lives in the attic until it gets its annual airing. Probably some things in there but mostly dust – it is 25 years old now but still looks real. . . ish! Maybe a proper one next year. I miss that lovely pine smell.

    Well, here’s wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas Kevin. 😀

  2. I knew a fella in Louisiana that use to feed his chickens ran-over squirrels he found (freshly) squished. Chickens are like feathered-piggies…but smell much better (most of the time).

    So, you didn’t have an allergenic reaction to the larger meal worms? Waxworms? Do they sell them dudes dehydrated?

    Merry Christmas!

  3. Not seen the waxworms dehydrated, but they come live in little pots with bran. I gather they can be purchased over here in a frozen state. Not a treat I can give often – they are expensive (usually pop them out when the wild birds are feeding their hatchlings).

    Yes, no allergic reaction surprised me – not one wheeze when handling them. Must be the poop dust? Yuk!

    Just seen that a pot of dried waxies in the US costs $44+ (sale price) for 2.4 ounces – OUCH!

  4. I see a lot of folks raising mealworms but not waxworms. I wonder what it would take to raise waxworms. Waxworms are different from the mealworms because the adults FLY!! However, if someone else can do it, so can I! $44 bucks for 2.4 oz! That’s a pretty good return. Maybe…who knows?

    • Good luck with that! LOL! Don’t know much about them apart from eating beeswax or honey (or both?). Soooo you need to keep bees too! Now that’s something interesting for the future too. My husband has been thinking of doing that at some stage.


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