In this lesson we will learn to identify the materials needed to create RCW, or Ramial Chipped Wood.
RCW uses twigs, the small branches of trees. They should be collected while the trees are dormant during autumn, after they have lost their leaves. At this point, the twigs are full of nutrients that they will store for the following spring.
Twigs from certain trees make for better RCW than others.
Pioneer trees are what we call those species of trees that are the first to grow in a deforested area. They are very hardy and well-adapted to the local climate. Their twigs are great for RCW, as they help to improve soil health and fertility.
So called 'climatic' species are those trees that are naturally dominant in a local area and are particularly well-adapted for RCW.
certain trees types are particularly recommended, such as:
Oak, Ash, Maple, Acacia
On the other hand, certain trees such as eucalyptus, chestnut trees, and all coniferous trees, contain toxic oils. Avoid using these species for more than 20% of the total volume of your RCW.
less than 20% coniferous, chestnut, eucalyptus
Yearly trimmings from fruit trees, bushes and roadside trees are a great source for twigs.
Try to use materials from as many different species as possible, as each species of tree will bring unique benefits for soil development and fungi growth.
Of course, it make be difficult to identify different tree species while the trees are dormant.
Study and identify local trees during spring and summer, while they still have their leaves.
In the winter there are a few tips you can use to help identify different species.
For oak trees, you'll usually find oak leaves and acorns at the base of the tree.
The same is true for chestnut trees, which tend to be surrounded by nuts in spiny coverings.
Once you've gathered your materials you can start preparing the RCW.