A Very Poplar
Garden Mulch

Dateline: 16 March 2016

I have a few poplar trees in my woods. They grow straight and tall, then a wind comes along and breaks the tops off. It happens sooner or later with all of them, and that's what happened to the tree in the picture above. The end of the tree in the foreground is where the top broke off months ago. I cut the tree down at the other end a couple weeks ago.

Poplar is a soft wood that isn't good for home-heating firewood because it burns so fast. I have quite a lot of it cut up and under a tarp to use when we boil maple syrup. I have enough. So what do I do with a tree like that?

Well, I was watching David The Good's movie about composting last weekend and I got the idea to use the tree as a compost around my elderberry bushes.  So I cut the trunk in 33" lengths and split them in half...

Then I trucked the halves to my garden...

I have four elderberry bushes. A T-post is by each one. There is a permanent ground cover fabric on either side of the bushes, spaced 30" apart. I decided to layer on some leaves (worm food) before putting the poplar chunks down...

In this next picture you can see the bushes all poplar-mulched...

Cutting that wood, splitting it, and carrying to my truck tuckered me out more than I expected. I probably won't be using poplar mulch elsewhere in my garden.


I kept one piece of the wood for something else. Something I've been wanting to do with a chunk of poplar tree for a long time. I'll put that chunk (below) in my shop for a year, or two, or three...

Eventually, I hope to carve a poplar dough bowl with that piece of wood. Just like Mr. Chickadee has done in the picture below. Check out Mr. Chickadee's web site. I like the stuff he does.

Some people have "bucket lists" of things they want to do in their life. Go Bungy Jump in New Zealand. Swim at the top of Victoria Falls in Africa. Stuff like that. But me...  I want to carve a poplar bowl.  Someday.


ELittle said...

Is there something specific to poplar that makes it good for a mulch? How about regular old pine trees? I have new elderberries, gooseberries, and Black currents coming this spring and wonder if the pine mulch would be beneficial or hurtful to my new plants? Any rumination about this?

Mike said...

That bowl will be much easier to carve while still green.

kymber said...

Herrick - long time reader but first time commenter. can i have your permission to add your blog to our blogroll?

we live on cape breton island, nova scotia, canada and are small-time homesteaders...we try and grow as much of our own food as possible and this year my husband wants to try and grow hops. i have bookmarked and printed all of your articles about hops. but i would really like to give our few, small but very interested readers a chance to come to your website and learn as much as they can from you. you can check us out at www.framboisemanor.blogspot.com to make sure that you are comfortable with us linking to your blog.

thank you so much for all that we have learned from your blog!

Herrick Kimball said...

I don't know how to properly answer your questions. I don't think there is anything special about poplar as a mulch. That much I think I know. :-)

I agree. That would be ideal. But I lack a couple of necessary tools right now. If the dry wood proves to be too difficult to work with, I'll just cut down another damaged poplar and work with that while green.

Another island dweller (Everett lives on Block Island). How neat! Of course you can link to this blog, if you don't mind being associated with a radical. Thanks for asking.

And, by the way, I read "About jambaloney" at your site. Amazing guy. You have a way with words. I'll be back to visit more.

kymber said...

Herrick...thank you for allowing us to link to your blog. and yes - he is a very amazing guy. kind of like you. and we are very glad to have your permission to you add you to our blogroll. thanks very much!

your new friend,

Elizabeth L. Johnson said...

Elizabeth L. Johnson said,
Everett, I use a thick layer of wood chips in a portion of my vegetable garden. In this particular area I dumped a bunch of pine chips (not bark, not sawdust, but chipped wood). That year when I measured the soil for alkaline or acid, it read 7, neutral. Year after, after some decay, the soil read 6.5, slightly acidic. It takes quite a while to decay. My vegetables produced just fine. Maybe this will help.