Mulch, Mulch, Mulch is what we hear from some of the best gardeners. Whether it be the slow natural way as in the forest (what drops and rots from above) or the introduced mulch to speed up the forest floor. As we only have 2 large poinciana trees on our block of land, and they only have very fine leaves and tiny twigs that fall most of the time in winter, we have to supplement.
My mother-in-law Gardener, who gardened here first, used grass mulch from the grass catcher. It was spread out on the ground to dry and then used thickly on as much shaded ground as possible. This worked well for her and broke down into the soil well. Now that was 20 years ago, and Mum did that for all her gardening years (approx. 40 odd years on this block). She just buried all her scraps in the yard and bought 1 big bag of organic extra per year after the chooks became too much to handle.
We moved here around 1998, and our initial mulches many years ago was spent mushroom bags, which could be classed as compost but we used heaps of them on top of the ground and in beds to liven up the soil as well as grass clippings. We must have lugged in about 8 trailer loads ($25 per trailer) stacked with spent mushroom bags which was from the mushroom place down the road. You see this is a dark sandy based soil here which does not hold water well at all and I do not like bare soil.
This mushroom stuff broke down too quick, and we started to buy bales of organic sugarcane mulch, the ones wrapped in blue string. We toted in large trailer loads of the stuff, 30 bales at a time, and once used a big round bale of sugarcane mulch which seemed to make a huge mess as we rolled it out. This laying down of mulch happened mainly around September each year for about 10 years. We also use a mechanical mulcher to take care of our prunings etc. Our food garden area covers about 250sqm and it is covered by many wicking bins.
Now before that time, we did not know much better, and purchased trailer loads and small truck loads of premium garden soil with added manure and compost from the fellow just down the road from us. I’ve lost count of the loads that we have shoveled out of trailers. Then we ordered a few loads of well-aged horse manure from Tim, with some Lucerne mulch a few hundred dollars worth. Later we trialed about 3 or 4 bags of bamboo mulch, which was excellent with good moisture retention, but too expensive.
Then last year, on our trip to sugarcane country at Rocky Point, they had some compressed pea straw, which was also a great mulch but broke down quite fast, and little pea plants came up here and there and we noticed that the local mice enjoyed it as well as they nibbled away at the bags.
Now in the last month or so, we did another trip with the trailer for a load of compressed sugar cane mulch which was priced well at $3 a bag (50 covering about 10sqm ea). We topped the trailer with about 10 compressed pea straw bales as well.
Now I have just sat down and the thought came to my mind- ARE WE MULCH JUNKIES?
About 5 years ago, we all started to have back problems and mowing the yard became a big chore, so we purchased a ride-on zero turn mower which did not need a catcher as it mulched back on the grass-NO GRASS CLIPPINGS. We have used self-mulching mowers for about 10 years prior to that.
WHERE DOES IT GO? Does anyone else have a mulch problem?
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