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Author Topic: Mulch  (Read 1356 times)
kristen
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« on: September 06, 2018, 06:48:18 AM »

I have a big garden, and big compost heaps ... but the compost has mostly gone to areas Under Construction (of which there have been a lot over the past years), so not much available for elsewhere, nor the time to do much about it. Parts of the garden where the soil has received no love don't look great, and clearly need some help.

Next Year's New Year's Resolution is to have mulched the whole garden during this Autumn Smiley

In the past I've used Mushroom Compost - it came in huge juggernaut articulated lorry loads, and nice and light to handle etc.

Every month I see Strulch advertised in RHS Mag, but I assumed it would be expensive.  Actually doesn't seem too bad (I know it weights nothing ... but), and transporting a bag to a bed and spreading it around might have less impact on the lawn than a heavy barrow - in the past I've noticeably worn the grass paths with a barrow  backwards-and-forwards in winter - heavy land here.

Then I thought "why not compost straw"?

(In fairness Strulch is not exactly composted straw, and they say takes two years to break down; but I'm as much interested in improving the soil as mulching for weed prevention and moisture retention)

I am surrounded by arable farms and speaking to one some points came up:

  • Massive bailing this year, for transport to livestock areas affected by drought.
  • But we'd just had some rain, and he said he was struggling to get the straw dry enough to bale (damp straw, baled and then composted, sounds OK to me Smiley )
  • New powerstation up in Norfolk burning bales, so increased bailing for that too
  • Outdoor straw stacks, unused until Spring, have a top layer that is "junk" after having been weathered - maybe I could buy that.

But ... the Jumbo bales he makes are about 0.5 Tonne each and go to Powerstation for about 50 a bale. Most stuff that comes in one-tonne builders bags is about 100 a tonne, so price didn't seem particularly attractive, and the bales are massive. It would take a bit of organisation to provide a composting-location near the road that machinery could unload a trailer-load's worth

I dig grow some Tomatoes in Bales as a youngster (alongside my Ringculture experiment for anyone that remembers that!).  A quick google suggest watering daily, for a week or so, and adding some Nitrogen, and then letting the bales get on with it. Seems that it ought to be possible to convert straw-to-compost ... albeit with some "effort", and any bales from "damp straw" would have a headstart, and might come cheaper from local farmer by solving-a-problem for him.

And then there is the Glyphosate that (not this year, because so dry) will usually have been sprayed on the Wheat a couple of weeks before harvest ...

My Veg garden is Organic, but I'm less fussed for the ornamental part.

Thoughts and suggestions welcome Smiley Thanks.
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pantsmachine
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« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2018, 07:53:05 AM »

http://ucanr.edu/sites/Shasta_College_Master_Gardener/files/187458.pdf

The PDF is out there.
http://permacultureideas.blogspot.com/2010/06/one-straw-revolution-ebook-free-to.html

We use seaweed and horse manure/stable sweepings as a mulch. Also all cut grass and leaves from our gardens along with any chipped branches prewinter. Seaweed is very effective but if you go for that option its considered cool not to take it all, try and get the mid level stuff and leave X amount for the beach beasties. Don't take live.

Also worth a read.
https://www.amazon.com/Teaming-Microbes-Organic-Gardeners-Revised/dp/1604691131
« Last Edit: September 06, 2018, 08:00:51 AM by pantsmachine » Logged

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HalcyonRichard
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« Reply #2 on: September 06, 2018, 08:10:30 AM »

Totally agree with pantsmachine. I have a fairly large garden of about 1/2 acre. One of the best books I read was Bob Flowerdew's "the no work garden". I do not buy any mulch at all and very virtually no fertiliser . All the grass mowings go onto the vegetable beds. I do no weeding or digging at all. In the spring all the grass has been taken into the soil by worms and the beds look a mass of worm casts. The soil is ready for planting with no digging. This makes mowing a lot easier as well. As most of the time I empty the grass box as I am passing the veg beds. This along with composting the household and garden organic waste keeps the garden very fertile and weed free.

Richard
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