I was interviewing Katzcradul from the homestead honey hour and she mentioned watching a film called Back to Eden, and how it changed her gardening life. I had to watch it myself, and I must say she was right. This is an AWESOME film – it is interesting because a lot of what was in the video are things I just learned about by talking to Paul Wheaton of permies.com.
I will say their seems to be those that do use wood chips as a mulch in their gardens and are converts, and those that look at the science of composting and say that this does not work because wood needs nitrogen to compost. However, after doing a little research I believe that while wood mixed with the dirt will rob nitrogen – and a layer where the chips touch the soil may be nitrogen poor the first year, the benefits over time outweigh this.
As the wood decomposes it releases nitrogen in much larger amounts that it takes to compost it, plus it reduces weeds, conserves moisture, prevents the need to till, and contributes to a loose soil full of worms and other beneficial living organisms.
I will be experimenting with this, and will post more as I learn.
Wood Chip Update:
I have used this many times on my raised bed gardens. I can personally attest to how much easier a wood chip mulch bed is to weed. It works well and replenished the soil. The ground does not get so muddy. I think a wood chip garden looks nice also.