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Author Topic: What to use for garden mulch?  (Read 559 times)

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Offline straincm

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What to use for garden mulch?
« on: May 14, 2021, 09:13:22 AM »
I am trying to grow a (real) garden this year. I have tried small goes at it in the past, and living in the woods the critters always get to the vegetables before me. Anyway, I have been reading about different mulches and I am curious as to what others use. My great grandmother always use to grow a large garden and I don't ever remember mulch, but I am trying it this year. I bought some cocoa hull to try around the tomatoes, but I haven't finished the mulching yet. I am growing snow peas, green beans, broccoli, tomatoes, cucumbers and a couple different sweet peppers.

 

Offline mike_belben

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Re: What to use for garden mulch?
« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2021, 12:39:17 PM »
If you dont have one get a bag mower.  Coat your garden dirt in grass then sawdust. Then grass then sawdust. 


When youve got no more room make those two into compost in a kiddie pool or 55g drum or rubbermaid barrel etc.  Toss some punky spongey oak duff ontop to get it innoculated.  Drink lots of beer and wizz on it often.  Boom.  Tomatoes. 
Psalm 37:16

Offline K-Guy

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Re: What to use for garden mulch?
« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2021, 02:31:36 PM »
Drink lots of beer and wizz on it often.  Boom.  Tomatoes.


I'll have to try this....Then I can say to the wife" I'm drinking this beer for the tomatoes!" :o:D
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Offline BradMarks

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Re: What to use for garden mulch?
« Reply #3 on: May 14, 2021, 03:43:13 PM »
Not withstanding the comic relief, I believe sawdust is not a good idea unless you are going to boost the nitrogen with an additive. Sawdust takes nitrogen from the soil. 

Offline 21incher

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Re: What to use for garden mulch?
« Reply #4 on: May 14, 2021, 08:07:43 PM »
I use grass clippings.  I put them down when fresh cut and still wet a minimum of 6 inches thick. The next couple  days they start composting and get quite  hot that helps  kill any weed seeds along with warming the soil. After  about  a week there is a mat that I have never had weeds grow through. I use a cyclone  rake to collect about  50 cu yards each spring.  By the following  spring the mulch has mixes in with the soil.  Be careful if you use sawdust or pine needles  because  they can change  the soil ph and many veggies don't  like acid soil. My parents never used mulch because they kids to do the weeding.  
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Offline mike_belben

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Re: What to use for garden mulch?
« Reply #5 on: May 14, 2021, 11:45:09 PM »
Not withstanding the comic relief, I believe sawdust is not a good idea unless you are going to boost the nitrogen with an additive. Sawdust takes nitrogen from the soil.
Thats why the grass clippings go down first, to provide nitrogen for the microbes that are gonna digest the carbon.  Then pee ontop of it. Urine is about 10% nitrogen.

The whole process is faster in a compost pile but it still works as a shading layer that also builds soil over time.


Try it some time. After a while rake the layers back and youll see that many crop roots have come upward into the decomposing matter chasing the nutrients in the grass clipping layer. 
Psalm 37:16

Offline Ianab

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Re: What to use for garden mulch?
« Reply #6 on: May 15, 2021, 01:06:37 AM »
Initially fresh sawdust will take nitrogen from the soil as it begins to decay. Hence the advice to add extra nitrogen.  But it eventually gives up that nitrogen once the fungus etc has done it's work, and created some nice rich compost. So if you can get an annual continuous process happening you have no net loss of Nitrogen. 
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Offline mike_belben

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Re: What to use for garden mulch?
« Reply #7 on: May 15, 2021, 03:11:03 AM »
If you put enough greens from a bag mower over the soil before the sawdust layer goes down, the soil below the grass clipping layer wont suffer any N losses because youve added sufficent greens to process the browns.  Youre feeding tiny bugs.. They arent gonna go further than necessary for fuel.

The original dirt will more likely gain nutrients from rainwater leachate percolating through. This also a good chance to sprinkle on any ongoing ammendments you may need, before capping in "lasagna compost." (Lime or calcium, watered down molasses, epsom salt etc etc etc.)  



Ive been making grass and sawdust  compost for about 4 years and find 3:1 (grass:sawdust) ratio to be right if table scraps are also in it.  4:1 if they are not, which id keep out of a garden so it doesnt attract critters.


I do the same with the entire leaf pile every year.  It sits from fall to spring in a runoff channel and stays soaked, with almost no reduction.  Churn in a few bags of grass and the pile melts down into black loam filled with fat crawlers in 2 months or so.
Psalm 37:16

Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: What to use for garden mulch?
« Reply #8 on: May 15, 2021, 03:27:42 AM »
I just mulch with peat moss. No weeds and holds moisture in the soil under it. Then when tilled before the next go, it's soil supplement making the ground softer. I use 2 bails for a 25' x 25' garden. You guys seen my garden last year, along with hauling water because of drought. :) Good mulch no matter what you use is good sense. ;)

I also mulch with white cedar around berries and fruit trees. And manure on everything and tilled in the garden before planting. I just moved some bags of manure that where near my rhubarb and big 1/4" diameter crawlers in under them. ;D
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Offline thecfarm

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Re: What to use for garden mulch?
« Reply #9 on: May 15, 2021, 04:57:13 AM »
I use cardboard and straw. I wet the ground a little, put down the cardboard, wet it down again. Than I put a layer of straw, wet it down again. Than when I am done with a section I turn the sprinkler on and really wet it down. The water weights the straw down and keeps it all in place. Before we had water here, I did the above and the wind blew the straw around and moved it.
I did use a layer of peat moss where the tomatoes are. A few weeds started but easy to pull up.
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Offline 69bronco

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Re: What to use for garden mulch?
« Reply #10 on: May 15, 2021, 06:51:40 AM »
I'm with Cfarm only we put cardboard down between the rows and pile planer shavings on top. Like 10-12" thick. Any N robbing effects are long gone in the fall when we hit the gardens with the tiller.

Offline thecfarm

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Re: What to use for garden mulch?
« Reply #11 on: May 16, 2021, 04:56:28 AM »
@SwampDonkey ,how thick are you putting down that peat moss? Using 2 bales for a 25 x 25 foot garden, it can't be much. I might give that a try. Just takes so long to put down cardboard and the straw too. Straw is not cheap either.
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Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: What to use for garden mulch?
« Reply #12 on: May 16, 2021, 05:04:08 AM »
It's compressed bales, so they are deceiving, once you open that bale up you have a lot of peat. I put an inch down, it will settle over time. I think what I got last spring came from Miscou area on the NE shore. :)
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Offline thecfarm

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Re: What to use for garden mulch?
« Reply #13 on: May 16, 2021, 05:19:47 AM »
I did use a layer of peat moss where the tomatoes are. A few weeds started but easy to pull up.
I have used it. Just was curious about thick you put it on. We sell it at work. It's kinda cheap for the amount you get. Well it was cheap a few years ago. I have not really checked the price this year.  :o
I'm a dragging my feet putting the garden in. I really think this is the year for down sizing, We say it every year, than we look at our 40 tomato plants and 60 peppers plants and say to each other, I thought we was down sizing this year?  ::) 
Going to be a lot of flowers this year, wide rows too. I worked hard getting the rocks and the grass out of the garden. I would hate to see it go back to grass again
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Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: What to use for garden mulch?
« Reply #14 on: May 16, 2021, 07:23:26 AM »
I though you had to be at least 80 before ya down sized. ;)

Had the buggy out yesterday to toss rocks into the back, doing some lawn work. I've got 12 loads of screened loam coming possibly this week. :)
No amount of belief makes something a fact. James Randi

Offline thecfarm

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Re: What to use for garden mulch?
« Reply #15 on: May 16, 2021, 08:49:50 AM »
Not done planting yet!! We may still look at 40 tomatoes plants and 60 peppers plants and say to each other, I thought we was going  to down size?   :D
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Offline kantuckid

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Re: What to use for garden mulch?
« Reply #16 on: May 16, 2021, 10:26:43 AM »
Maybe a soil analysis prior to deciding the mulch answer? Most any County agent will help on that and it's a better way to begin soil enhancements.
 My neighbor does the same thing with his grass clippings, uses my sawmill dust and his chickens poop. He dose's his maters with the compost. Wood chips are a good mulch to reduce rain spatters on maters but need to be offset by other soil additions. Green grass clippings used alone, not composted, I'd avoid. 
In our large raised bed where we grow all our maters (since our main garden got late blight issues we cannot contain with maters-it's nasty stuff) I'm using some probiotics in the soil this year. Look up on Amazon where there's a bunch of them for sale. Too many actually as one seller will offer several and how you decide which one baffles me still. 
I've also switched to fish fertilizer in the raised bed. 
I use natural hardwood mulch made at a local plant that's the destination for most commercial mills refuse in my area. I buy a scoop or two every year at the plant directly and we mulch all our yard plants with it but not in the garden as it steals too much nitrogen there. Honestly it looks like some of what they all too often call "compost" in box store bags! The natural version contains the mud off the de-barkers so it's got lots of goodies in it plus the bark itself. Makes a great source of acidity for our Rhodo's and Azaleas.  
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Offline Paul_H

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Re: What to use for garden mulch?
« Reply #17 on: May 22, 2021, 06:05:25 PM »
Wood chips for mulch? | OSU Extension Service (oregonstate.edu)

Quote
The propensity to tie up nitrogen also depends on whether or not you mix the chips with soil, or use them as a mulch on the top of the soil. If you mix the wood chips up with the soil, there is a greater tendency for the wood chips to tie up nitrogen.
I've used woodchips from the local tree services as a top mulch only the past couple years especially around the tomatoes and dry beans(keeps the beans out of the dirt) Our place is dry and our garden is large so mulch makes sense. The beans and maters did well last year and we added two gravel truck loads of sand/manure from a local dairy this Spring. My understanding from reading up on chips is long term it is well worth it. Old hay and chicken manure is also used.

Hay covers the beans seed bed then chips. Where this bed is planted was where last years tomatoes and onions were.Although there were chips laid down there last season,they seemed to have broken down well in the 12 months since.



The dry beans are good on tortillas or with salsa, cheese and ham or sausage for breakfast during the week.



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Offline mike_belben

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Re: What to use for garden mulch?
« Reply #18 on: May 22, 2021, 10:15:54 PM »
That is consistent with my observations paul.   

You will probably find that your carbons stay intact for a long time until you either mix them in the dirt and white fungus breaks them down, or you add enough nitrogen and moisture that they compost by whatever magic bacterial action goes on.   The higher you pile them and the warmer the temp the faster and hotter the composting action. 


One could heavily woodchip the top for a sunscreen  (because thats really what you need, something to block the weed seeds from the sun sprouting them and the dirt from the sun dehydrating it) And after growing season, add whatever nitrogen you want, grass or manures or a legume cover crop.. Even a weed cover crop, anything green.   pile it all up and over winter that wood chip or chopped leaf or straw layer will become humus because you finally gave the nitrogen and moisture needed to make it all into decent topsoil.  

It will get better every year.  Unless you are in naturally deep, fertile soil i would refrain from deep plowing.  You dont want a living aerobic top soil to be buried and go anaerobic. Itll just die. 
Psalm 37:16

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Re: What to use for garden mulch?
« Reply #19 on: May 23, 2021, 02:36:29 AM »
I use cedar mulch here around the berries, grapes and fruit trees. Also some trees get a helping. :)

New black currents, added some better loam than existed, some soil supplement, sheep manure. Mixed that all in, planted them and topped with cedar mulch. And yes, they are in flower. ;)





Nice bunch of beans there to thrash. ;D

Folks used to grow baking beans in these parts, Jacobs Cattle, Soldier and Yellow Eye. In the last decade that has pretty much come to an end. Green Giant used to sell a bottle of baked yellow eye beans, haven't seen it in 30 years. Friend of the family tried growing some baking beans in Kelowna but wasn't successful. He now buys them all bagged and ready to go back east here. Other friends here grew baking beans here as a side business, retired now. Some young fellow from Maine bought his equipment.
No amount of belief makes something a fact. James Randi


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