Saturday, May 10, 2014

Mulch ado about nothing

Not a typo, just me being clever.  Or not so clever, as the case may be. Either way, you get the gist: today's topic is MULCH. 

Mulching garden beds as you plant can save you eons. Literally. Ok, maybe not eons, but when pulling weeds in the hot sun while mosquitoes attack, it sure can seem like it.

I'd always avoided doing this because I heard that mulch will cool the soil.  I figured out differently when I put my hand in the mulch pile and discovered it was OUCH!! FREAKING HOT!  I plan to eventually get a soil thermometer and compare temps, but in the meantime, I conclude that the soil is not cooled or heated enough to retard germination or growth. So sayeth Country Wife.

I used to plant my seeds, wait for them to germinate, and then try to mulch around the tiny seedlings without squishing them.  I also tried to figure out which seedlings were weeds and which were veggies. Guess what? Sometimes it's pretty hard to tell. And even if you figure it out, you will probably yank up seedlings along with the weeds anyway.

Another issue I have is rows. I'm not great at those super straight rows. In fact, I have an aversion to straight lines. I can't help it. They just seem weird to me.  I've seen gardens that look like they were designed on a laser grid or something. Unbelievably straight. *shudder*  Unnatural, in my opinion. Therefore, my rows are a little wibbly, but still ok. Mulching as I plant helps me keep up with where the row actually lies, though.

I use mulched leaves or grass clippings. Yes, these eventually break down, but the best part is that my mulch source (the yard) has a tendency to grow back, therefore providing more mulch for the garden.  Actually, harvesting mulch is about the only reason I mow. 

DO NOT use wood chips or sawdust for mulch. Those use nitrogen to break down, pulling it from the soil. Grass and leaves, on the other hand, release nitrogen into the soil. I read somewhere that grass clippings are 4% nitrogen, 1% phosphorous, and 2% potassium. Sounds tasty to garden plants!

This may seem time consuming, mowing and mulching and planting all at once. In fact, I mow til the bag is full, then take the bag over to the garden and dig a row and plant, then mulch. Lather, rinse, repeat. It works for me. Honestly, I hate mowing, so mixing in the garden work makes it bearable. It saves me so much time in the long run, what with not fighting weeds (back! Back, I say! Damned weeds!! Have at thee! En guard!) while the plants are growing. Once harvest starts, I don't care so much about weeds, or mowing. There could be tigers in the grass for all I care; I'm busy canning. 

So far we've planted onions, beets, carrots, and radishes. The potatoes should have been out by now, but I just haven't had the time. With any luck, it'll be this weekend. And then it's on to the corn. Hopefully, shortly thereafter, we can put out the tender things, like tomatoes and peppers. I'm waiting til the end of May, just to be on the safe side.

It seems I have help in the garden for the day. These rows are mulched with a mix of grass leaves.

Grass clippings, mostly, for the newest row.

Polemonium in bloom. (Jacob's ladder)

The Sweet Woodruff (Galium Oderatum) is blooming, as well.

Anyone know what this is? I think I looked it up last year, but I can't remember. It's a woody
shrub type thingie that grows in our woods.


Not much else happening on the farmstead at the moment. I hope to stay more up to date with posts. could happen...


Carolyn said...

I made the mistake of mulching with wasted hay before. Never. Again. I was fighting bermuda grass for two years in that spot.

We don't have a bagger on the mower so don't get to save all that wonderful potential mulch (or goat munchies). Maybe I can convince my mom, who does bag her clippings, to haul them to my place. Doubtful, but you never know.

Oh, and I see you had Morels! Great luck finding them :)

Country Wife said...

I agree on hay. Supposedly, if you mulch deep enough, nothing weedlike will grow. I've never had mulch that deep. lol

We have a walk behind mower (read: push hard most of the time mower) with a bagger. Takes forever to mow when bagging, but worth it, IMHO. We will do a rush mow from time to time with no bagging, if the grass is getting too far ahead.