In this lesson we will learn to collect and chip branches in order to make RCW, or Ramial Chipped Wood. It's also sometimes called BRF, after its abbreviation in French.
There are many ways to collect the branches.
We can use a simple wood saw, a chainsaw, or pruning shears, which are particularly useful when cutting fruit trees.
- a simple wood saw
- a chainsaw
- pruning shears
With both the saw and the shears, the rules are the same: we cut branches that are less than 7cm, or about 3 inches, in diameter.
These branches are usually less than 2 years old. It's best to choose branches that are still flexible, since these branches will contain a substance called soluble lignin, which fungi love.
We need to collect a lot of branches all while keeping in mind that about we need about 10m3 of branches in order to get 1m3 of RCW.
10m3 of branches for every 1m3 of RCW
Once we have collected enough branches, we'll move to the chipping stage, where we transform the branches into fine chips.
Transforming branches into RCW allows for greater exposure to the surface of the wood.
This is useful since fungi cannot penetrate through wood bark.
Rather, it tends to grow on branches in the direction of the wood grain.
So, by chipping the wood, we maximize the surface area on which the fungi can grow.
For this step, we will need a wood chipper or a machete, along with a wheelbarrow.
- wood chipper
- a machete
- a wheelbarrow
If you use a wood chipper, remember to use the appropriate safety gear.
This kind of machine helps to speed up the process. However, it can be quite expensive.
If you don't have access to a wood chipping machine, you can use a machete. This will be a lot more time consuming, but it's inexpensive and easy to use.
If you turn the blade at a 45 degree angle, you'll be able to cut the wood easier and you'll also maximize the surface of raw wood.
Once the wood has been chipped, it will need to be put on plant beds within a maximum of 24 hours.