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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Mulch We Love - and Why

Here are the kinds of mulch we prefer, and why:


Bedding straw:
Straw is from the stalks left standing after grains are harvested (wheat, barley, rye). It consists just of the lower stems of the plant. We prefer the straw because it doesn't have as many seed-heads (which means less weeding for us). We can use straw straight out of the bale, or raked out of animal stalls. The benefit of used straw is that it contains urine and manure from the livestock which functions as fertilizer for the garden. We can also use spoiled hay. (Pictured at left)




Autumn Leaves: Leaves from maples and fruit-trees are some of our favorites. In the fall we either put them directly in the garden rows so they will decompose over the winter or rake them into big piles and cover them in plastic for use in the spring. Not all leaves are beneficial. Walnut leaves (for example) are toxic to many plants and will retard their growth or actually kill them. (Below: A big load of autumn leaves diverted from the landfill/burn-pile)


Grass Clippings: Some people like to leave grass clippings on their lawns/fields because they act as a mulch and fertilizer for the growing grass. Other people have collection-bags on their mowers and pile their grass clippings in one place. Grass clippings make an excellent garden mulch and fertilizer as they are easy to spread and compost readily making the nutrients easily available to your plants. We don't recommend bagging up your lawn clippings because they will become a stinky, gooey mess if they decompose in an airtight container or bag. If you wish to save grass clippings for later use, either leave them in the lawn/field for a few days in the sun and rake them after they've dried or use your bagger-mower to collect and then spread them just a few inches thick on a large sheet of plastic, in the sun, and they will dry quickly. Then you can store them in bags for use at a later time. (Below: Spoiled hay mulching on a lawns-to-gardens project. Cox Lane Garden)

To read our full post on 'deep mulch' methods, Click Here.

Also: Herbicide Contamination in Manure, Compost and Grass Clippings?

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