Dyeing wood chips

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Dyeing wood chips

Postby warrenee » Wed Apr 07, 2010 2:04 pm

Anyone know of a safe, effective, environmentally sound way of permanently dyeing wood shavings/chippings a darker colour? We've finally given up on our small non-yielding veggie patch in a corner of the garden (after two years merely a few potatoes and a lot of weed, the soil is rubbish), and the wife wants to convert it to a flower bed with bark chippings (to keep the weeds out and the cats off). Since I appear to produce weekly about a binful of shavings & chippings from the drawknife and polelathe, it seems sensible to try and utilise those in some way rather than purchase bark chippings, but as they are mostly pale ash & beech would look a bit odd in their current state.

Anyone done anything similar or can recommend a dyeing method? Cheers.
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Re: Dyeing wood chips

Postby dave budd » Wed Apr 07, 2010 4:02 pm

bathtub/dustbin full of water and a dylon tablet should do it :)

Mind you, the wood will darken as the whether and rot gets to it (ok will go a little less pale and covered in mould!)
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Re: Dyeing wood chips

Postby arth » Wed Apr 07, 2010 11:47 pm

I agree with Dave, If you look any seasoned cross cut wood they all go a dark brown. Just throw it on your beds and let nature take it's course.
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Re: Dyeing wood chips

Postby goldsmithexile » Thu Apr 08, 2010 6:58 am

what wood is it? if its tannin in it (oak or chestnut) put it in water with bits of steel (eg wire wool), it will go a deep inky blue-black in no time. Frakly I think dyeing wood chips is a daft idea. Why add chemicals/poisons etc unecassrily :?: I have mounds of chippings, they soon darken naturally in the sun and rain....
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Re: Dyeing wood chips

Postby Nicola Wood » Thu Apr 08, 2010 9:41 am

A compromise suggestion (us wimmin understand the situation :wink: ) If you have a bit of space you could 'weather' it beforehand by spreading it out somewhere out of the way and turning it occasionally. Then when it has darkened sufficiently shovel it up and put it on your flower bed.
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Re: Dyeing wood chips

Postby arth » Thu Apr 08, 2010 11:37 am

stewed tea might dye it or possibly some old milk. That one might smell for a while.
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Re: Dyeing wood chips

Postby SeanHellman » Thu Apr 08, 2010 7:29 pm

I would make a couple of square bins that I dump the stuff in, make sure it stays wet and it will soon go dark, and hopefully start rotting. I clean up my yard at the workshop every now and then, shaving and chain saw chipping etc, after a few months it is usually dark. Bark and chippings can, if mixed into the soil, take all the nitrogen out, so make sure you keep putting lots of wee on it :mrgreen: or keep an eye on the plants so that they do not suffer nitrogen deficiency, by adding fertilizer
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Re: Dyeing wood chips

Postby RichardLaw » Fri Apr 09, 2010 8:52 am

Just to be awkward ... I like light-coloured chips - they reflect the light back up. I prefer my workshop floor looking nice n light to compensate for the tarp overhead. Just occasionally I have to reorganise the floor to level it up. This involves raking down into the rotting stuff, home of lost tools etc. I make sure I keep some fresh shavings by to cover over the darkly rotting stuff. Looks good I think:

Image

The orange stuff is alder
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Re: Dyeing wood chips

Postby SteveW » Sun May 02, 2010 1:22 pm

Dig in some muck and a bit of fertiliser, some sand if the soil is too clay, and some loam if the soil is too sandy, or make a raised bed and get some decent topsoil; from somewhere else. Soak shavings in scent and sell as potpourri in a nice wooden bowl, add old leaves and unidentifiable organic matter to taste….
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Re: Dyeing wood chips

Postby Robin Fawcett » Mon May 03, 2010 10:20 pm

I noticed recently when I'd been working some Holly that the dog had peed on the shavings and chips they'd gone a really nice dark green! That would look good on the garden but I wouldn't recommend it for food use. So I experimented with different liquids to see if I could replicate it - vinegar and lemon juice did nothing, washing soda went a lemony light green.
Any ideas for other things I could try?
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Re: Dyeing wood chips

Postby Bob_Fleet » Tue May 04, 2010 6:07 pm

Oh no, not green !
Get the dog to the vet quick.
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Re: Dyeing wood chips

Postby ulfhedinn » Mon Jun 07, 2010 6:25 am

Robin Fawcett wrote:I noticed recently when I'd been working some Holly that the dog had peed on the shavings and chips they'd gone a really nice dark green! That would look good on the garden but I wouldn't recommend it for food use. So I experimented with different liquids to see if I could replicate it - vinegar and lemon juice did nothing, washing soda went a lemony light green.
Any ideas for other things I could try?



I mulch without color prejudice myself, (as many have pointed out here, it all darkens soon enough) but if she's really twitchy about it, why boil up some old walnut hulls (not the wooden shells, but the fruits that surrounded them). It's a good natural dye, and will stain the shavings and most everything else a nice golden brown.

Absolutely disgusting stuff to prepare, of course. Years ago I had a roommate into natural dyes. She boiled up a huge pot of this glop on the kitchen stove. The entire household called it "shit soup", and we recalled reading about medieval zoning laws that put the dyers outside the city walls and downstream, along with trades like tanners. Everything they say about recreating the crafts helping you understand the situations and issues is true!

At any rate, perhaps after the first batch she'll let the raw chips go on next year?? :twisted:

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Re: Dyeing wood chips

Postby FGYT » Mon Jun 07, 2010 8:42 am

always best to pile it up and let it compost a bit first
bark chippings will also take nitrogen from the soil as it rots this is minimised if it isnt dug in but still happens it will also get draggged underground by the worms etc

its easy enough to get soil up to scratch but can take a bit of time raised beds are the eaisiest if you know some wood types who can knock up a frame to fill with soil and compost :lol: a good hardwood 2" thick is best but thin pallet wood will work just need changing after a couple of years etc

if you can get the council compost thats usually cheap (£30 a tonne here if you collect) . its a but ruff due t being made quickly in Hot composters but a 4" layer on the bed and cover for a few months with cardboard etc same with horse manure (well well rotted) this will definatly need leaving for a while as its very stong and burns most plants roots when freashly applied add it in with the council stuff and leave.

if you keep adding layers every year to weather in over the winter the worms will mix it all up for you and you will get a good soil


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Re: Dyeing wood chips

Postby Bob_Fleet » Mon Jun 07, 2010 11:11 am

FGYT wrote:horse manure (well well rotted0

For some reason whatever horses eat seems to transit them quickly.
This means that weed seeds are still viable so if you put fresh horse manure on the garden you get a wonderful crop of weeds.
However it goes well in a compost heap and accelerates the processes.
So do rabbit or guinea pig cage cleanings.

I put loads of wood shavings on the compost but need to balance it with additional nitrogen.
Your kidneys are designed to get rid of waste nitrogen.
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