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It has been encouraging to see the attention that Ramial Chipped Wood (RCW – chips of deciduous tree branches that are smaller than 7 cm in diameter) is getting in The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener. I first read about RCW in this paper in an article written by Tom Roberts of Snakeroot Organic Farm. 

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Celine Caron continues educating us about the long-term soil fertility-promoting properties of Ramial Chipped Wood (RCW) in this edition of The MOF&G (Redefining Soil Fertlity). Her first MOF&G article about using chips of wood from small (3-inch-diameter and under) branches of deciduous trees appeared in our Dec. 1998-Feb. 1999 issue.

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Ramial woodHave you ever wondered how a forest can grow and reproduce with no addition of fertilizers or irrigation; without tree transplants; and how insects are controlled without pesticides? Natural forests thrive and regenerate without human intervention, fertilizers or biocides. The only sources of energy are the sun and water. The forest is a living machine working with living material, and from this living machine comes soil fertility.

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Toki Oshima drawingI get excited about chips. Not potato chips or silicon chips, but wood chips. I believe they are a vastly underutilized resource on the organic farm. Chips are coarser than the coarsest sawdust, shavings or shingle hair. They range in size from a quarter to a slice of bread. In general, we come into contact with three kinds of wood chips: industrial chips, bark chips and ramial chips.

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