Soil Management in Permaculture: Mulching with Wood Chips
Updated: Apr 12
Beating the 46 C heat!
A year after we did the first plantation, the saplings were still small and young, just about 4-6 feet high. And the summer temperatures hit 46 degrees Celsius! The farm help would run pillar to post each day, waiting for the electricity to come, switching on the tubewell, arranging pipes all across the farm and watering all the trees. Only to find, that in a few hours, the earth would be parched dry again, and the trees would be wilting. Phew, it was tough!
We realised there was only one way to deal with this. We had to mulch all the saplings. But the problem was that we had no mulch on the farm. After a year, the earth had got a grassy cover, and had some wild bushes growing here and there, but no leafy litter was available to use as a mulch. We had no choice but to buy/ get mulch from some source.
Now mulching is not common in India, and people are not even familiar with the word 'mulch'. So to look for mulch was quite tricky! We decided to work backwards. We asked a timber merchant who sold logs of wood (basically the tree trunk of the eucalyptus tree) for his source of supply. We then called that sources and asked him what happened to the branches and leaves of the tree. He told us, they went to a factory in Naraingarh where they were chopped into little pieces. We called the factory in Naraingarh, and indeed they made wood chips which were used as fuel for boilers in other factories! We had found our source of wood chips.
We had to order them by the truck load, and they weren't cheap (thats why I recommend a day job when you just start building a farm. It helps to have a steady income). But they were a life saver. We spread them around every tree and in every bed that we had. The wood chips made from eucalyptus tree smelled good, and fresh as well. Their medicinal quality also kept away termite and other pests. But most importantly, evaporation losses reduced dramatically. We now had to water our trees once in 3 days, instead of twice a day. The soils became healthier, and the farm looked neater.
See the photos below!
Update 2020: Mulching out beds with wood chips is a way of life at Aanandaa. We now make our own wood chips with the cuttings & pruning of our trees. These videos will give you an idea of how we make the wood chips, and then spread them in our beds!