Is it Okay to Compost Wood Chips?

Is it Okay to Compost Wood Chips?

My second question concerns what to do with the wood chips. After running all this wood through the jointer, are the chips OK to place in a compost pile? I kinda remember hearing that sawdust was not a good thing to add to either mulch or a compost pile, but what about the chips that this machines spews out? Can they be composted safely? – Lee Nalley

Tim Inman: Last time, we were asked about using left overs for BBQ cooking. I’ll have the same answer here regarding the use of wood chips in the compost pile: Don’t. In addition to being a highly skilled master furniture maker and restorer with untold years of experience, I’m also a Master Gardener Intern. (Laugh a little, please!) Brown stuff in a compost pile is considered a source of carbon. Green stuff is usually a source of nitrogen. Carbon takes a long time to break down, and can deplete nitrogen. You need some carbon, but not a lot. Also, those toxins in the wood we discussed relative to BBQ are still in those wood chips. YOU DEFINITELY DO NOT WANT WALNUT IN YOUR COMPOST! It will kill tomatoes and anything related to them almost overnight. (Ask me how I know…….)

Wood chips in walking paths make a great use for waste. My shop cat seems to enjoy them in his litter box. At least he doesn’t refuse them. It is hard to know what a cat really enjoys. My vote: garden waste in the compost pile, shop waste somewhere else.

Chris Marshall: The worst year our garden ever had was the season following my “light” application of sawdust the previous fall. A bad idea I won’t repeat again, for exactly the reason Tim explains. I’d love to hear how other eZine readers make practical use of their sawdust and shaving excess, because mine mostly goes to the trash these days.

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