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homemade mulch

Posted: Sun May 23, 2010 9:06 pm
by vtown05
I live in an apartment and I have some vegetables growing in containers on my back patio. I would like to put down some mulch around them so they don't dry out so quickly. I'm poor and can't go buy any much. Is there anything that would be easy to come by that I could recycle and make into mulch?

Posted: Sun May 23, 2010 11:47 pm
by Susan W
Others can coach you better than me, but I think you can do shredded newspapers. If you have a gardening (container or ground) friend , split a bag. I usually use shredded hardwood, about $4 includes tax, more than you will need.
I have started many herbs in large pots, and about to get a bag of the mulch, and spread thin, 1/2 ". A little something keeps them from drying so fast, and the soil doesn't cake up so bad. Consider it a buffer zone.
Hope this helps

Posted: Mon May 24, 2010 1:39 am
by rainbowgardener
any shredded paper, like office paper.

Grass clippings. If your apt doesn't have lawn, surely you have a friend with one. Beg a bucket or two of grass clippings. It will be all you will need for the season for your containers.

Posted: Mon May 24, 2010 9:44 pm
by trixie 10
you can put hay,straw or little stones around the base of your plants or even saw dust. :P

Posted: Tue May 25, 2010 12:18 am
by Joyfirst
Or maybe you can find someone who has rabbits - if they use wood shavings or straw for bedding, you will get fertilizer(manure) and mulch in one.

Posted: Tue May 25, 2010 12:49 am
by gixxerific
trixie I don't think sawdust is a good mulch. It can be very acidic and can rob the soil of nitrogen unless weathered for at least a year.

Posted: Tue May 25, 2010 1:17 am
by applestar
Not exactly homemade, but how about a package/bag of hay usually sold FOR pet bunnies, etc.? They're already dried (no matting), highly nutritional -- usually timothy - sometimes alfalfa, packaged in a handy size, and usually cut shorter too.

Posted: Tue Aug 03, 2010 11:06 pm
by vtown05
Would pine straw work alright? They use it a lot in flower beds around here but I heard pine straw can raise/lower (can't remember which) the ph of the soil.

Posted: Tue Aug 03, 2010 11:15 pm
by Ozark Lady
What about drying out the trimmings from vegetables that you use in the kitchen? You could dry onion skins, corn shucks, etc. Wetter bits might be better to compost in a can of worms, under your sink, but the drier or easy to dry wastes of eating fresh fruits and vegetables would seem a good choice to me.

Posted: Wed Aug 04, 2010 12:04 pm
by rainbowgardener
Pine straw tends to acidify the soil, which is ok if you are growing plants like azaleas and blueberries that like acid.

I think OL is on the right track. If you have flower beds around you that you could borrow the pine straw from, maybe some weeds pop up occasionally. You can use pulled weeds for mulch (not as pretty maybe, but serves the function). Once your plants get bigger, they can be self-mulching with leaves and trimmings, spent flowers etc from the plants. Or maybe deadheaded flowers could come from those flower beds.

I'm in a different situation, but I make bunches of free wood chip mulch by running pruned branches and brush through a little lightweight chipper I bought very cheap on ebay (I don't mind one time expenses so much and I like being able to provide everything I need from my own little city lot).

Posted: Wed Aug 04, 2010 1:09 pm
by garden5
You could even take some leaves from a tree, let them dry out, then place them around. The possibilities are almost endless.

Posted: Thu Aug 05, 2010 2:07 am
by Pine Straw Info
If you find some pine straw, don't worry about it being acidic or causing acidity issues in your garden. I did some testing and research on it and it won't cause any problems. If you have time, I published my research on it here:

https://www.pinestrawinfo.com/PineStrawMulchAcidity-SeparatingFactFromFictionThroughAnalyticalTesting.pdf

Sometimes you can find pine straw on the side of the road, in a right-of-way, or in a neighbor's yard who would be happy to get rid of some. I don't think anyone would be bothered by you grabbing a few handfuls from under a pine tree somewhere. Do be careful of using anything not aged like sawdust or freshly chopped tree trimmings, etc. As someone else mentioned, it can use nitrogen from your soil as it decomposes.

Posted: Thu Aug 05, 2010 2:44 am
by Dixana
Not to be hijacking the thread, but is matting bad? I've been mulching with grass clippings and they have matted down around my plants....
The plants seem to be doing fine but AS made it sound like a bad thing and I don't want to hurt my plants! I don't have dried leaves or anything to mix with them to airate it, I tried some shredded paper but it blew around a lot and do not have forgiving neighbors.

Posted: Thu Aug 05, 2010 2:58 am
by Pine Straw Info
Matting is bad if water can't get through and a good exchange of oxygen with the soil can't happen. Not to continually push pine straw, but that is a huge advantage to using it is that it continually allows a good exchange of air and water runs right through it. If your plants are doing great, you are getting what you need to the soil and roots and I wouldn't worry too much about it. If the plants wilt, I would lift the "mat" and see if there is moisture getting to the soil. On the other hand, if the soil doesn't drain well, you could also trap too much moisure and waterlog the plants.
Dixana wrote:Not to be hijacking the thread, but is matting bad? I've been mulching with grass clippings and they have matted down around my plants....
The plants seem to be doing fine but AS made it sound like a bad thing and I don't want to hurt my plants! I don't have dried leaves or anything to mix with them to airate it, I tried some shredded paper but it blew around a lot and do not have forgiving neighbors.

Posted: Thu Aug 05, 2010 3:47 pm
by parker34
Joyfirst wrote:Or maybe you can find someone who has rabbits - if they use wood shavings or straw for bedding, you will get fertilizer(manure) and mulch in one.
Is there any issues with using the straw/ rabbitt manure for mulch in the veggie garden? I wouldn't think so, but just want to be sure.

I found out the other day that I have a neighbor with a bunny in a cage :D, and i need some mulch.

Posted: Fri Aug 06, 2010 6:47 pm
by garden5
If you collect your mulch for someone else's yard, be sure you know what chemicals the yard was treated with and also make sure you know if any herbicide was used.