I'm growing spinach, and swiss chard, but they don't seem to be sending up new shoots. Can these plants along with other leafy greens push up through wood chips?

  • How thick are these wood chips, Black? If they are over an inch those seeds will not get sunshine, warmth, forget getting chemistry out of the cold compacted soil for growth. Who is dumping chips on top of germinating seeds? Even without chips you bury your seeds 2 to 3 times the largest dimension of the seed. So lettuce which is TINY tiny seed is buried too deeply by ANY size wood chip. Ugh. This wood chip gig is not impressing me in the least. Thank you for bringing this stuff up because I have long ago poo pooed bogus gardening practices. This is a new perspective for me. – stormy Jun 5 '18 at 2:05
  • 1-2 inches from starts – black thumb Jun 5 '18 at 2:58
  • So 1 to 2 inches thick and you plant starts? You plant the starts in soil and then dump chips? Black thumb, I am sorry I see absolutely no benefit using wood chips. Scrape that stuff off and compost it, then use it on the surface of the soil. Only THEN is that compost usable to the life in the soil. There are many types of fungus, right? Some fungi are part of the decomposer crowd. There is fungi EVERYWHERE. The fact is these chips cause any nitrogen to be used up because non decomposed stuff HAS to be decomposed. Fact of life and death. I refused to use wood chips in landscapes... – stormy Jun 5 '18 at 22:58
  • i planted starts that were small, and gave them some growth then they started to get bigger, and i'm wondering about new leaf growth not old leaf growth – black thumb Jun 6 '18 at 1:51
  • You planted your starts in soil and THEN you put chips around them or OVER them? I am thinking you put chips OVER them, right? No sunlight, no photosynthesis. New leaves might make it out from under the chips. I dump regular dirt over weeds. Never see those weeds again. 1 to 2 inches will block out the light and kill. Black Thumb, please send ONE picture. What exactly did you do and why? Growing plants is not rocket science. You are making rocket science...I adore those who want to test everything. Meanwhile, just give your plants the basics. I would shuck this wood chip thing. – stormy Jun 6 '18 at 6:23

New small leaves of tender plants like spinach don't have the strength to lift a wood chip. Neither does the new growth often make enough sideways progress underneath a piece to snake its way up between chips. A good weed like bindweed sure will, but not the wonderful wimpy plants we like to eat. That's why it's not good to plant seeds under chips.

On the other hand, chips even an inch or two away from established plants, while one can argue about their overall benefits or lack thereof, won't cause new spinach leaves to fail to emerge. That's because new leaves in spinach emerge from the center of the plant, like lettuce or carrot leaves but not like rhubarb or peonies. So as long as the wood chips aren't right on top of the spinach but are an inch or two away like you describe, that isn't why they aren't producing new leaves. As to what IS causing them not to grow I can't tell. But it sounds like the wood chips aren't to blame.

There's an argument, to my mind excessively clinical, that wood chips bind nitrogen in the short run, robbing the plants they surround. Eventually as the chips rot from below, the nitrogen gets released again, together with wonderful new humus for a net long-run benefit. I use lots of chips, mostly around ornamentals, and I don't worry about it. But some people do. In that extreme instance, your existing spinach leaves would be yellowing etc. And there are many other possible causes of yellowing leaves even if they are.

Spinach hates heat. Is it getting summer-hot in your area, and what spinach that is growing shooting straight up?

  • have you seen grass struggle to push up through wood chips if it's in the post winter emersion stage? – black thumb Apr 18 '19 at 22:59
  • 1
    Yes, through thin and/or mostly rotten chips. – InColorado Apr 20 '19 at 2:47

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