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Halfway
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What are you mulching your veggies with?

I'm using cedar mulch, but I notice a lot of folks using lawn clippings. I thought lawn clipping would fix nitrogen?? Thought I read that somewhere.

Anyhow, what are you folks using for mulch and why??
Zone 4a.

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applestar
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Some of us are having a :idea: moment here:
https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=21761

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Halfway
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thanks for the link applestar. never thought of the permaculture section for my mulch question. :shock:
Zone 4a.

shaefins
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I'm currently using grass clippings, though I readily admit I'm woefully underinformed and I fear I might be hurting myself instead of helping. :shock:

Haven't had time to do enough research, but knew I needed something in there and the clippings were readily available.

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rainbowgardener
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I used to use wood chips and fall leaves.

Then we read Teaming with Microbes, which suggests that for annuals/ veggies, the "browns" like that contribute to too fungal a soil (vs bacterial).

So this year I am using hay, pulled weeds, grass clippings, supplemented with a little bit of straw (straw is a brown, but maybe a little less so than wood chips). Everything seems to be doing well, but there are so many variables comparing one year to a previous one, it's hard to say is it the mulch doing it. I don't have enough growing room to do control groups.

The wood chips are high carbon and can steal nitrogen from the soil to break them down (mostly a problem if you bury them, not so much if they are just sitting on top). Grass clippings are high nitrogen and should not do that. I think grass clippings make very good mulch - when I lived in a place with lots of lawns, that was what I used all the time. Where I am, I don't actually have access to much.
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We use our grass cuttings, and then before our fall till we and all the dry leaves from our yard.

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Halfway
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I think I am going to begin to replace the wood with grass clippings.

I wonder if I put grass clippings on top of the wood mulch if I will begin to get some breakdown that would hurt the plants??
Zone 4a.

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farmerlon
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Primarily, I use grass clippings for mulch around the garden veggies.
I use wood chips for mulch around the Blueberries, Blackberries, Strawberries, and Raspberries.

Also, I have a large supply of Pokeweed (Polk Salad) that comes up along my fencerow. I have been cutting off the stalks (before they go to seed), and tossing those down on any bare spots in my garden paths.

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I'm also using grass clipings, weeds and hay. The purchased hay is spread in the duck house and rabbit hutches first. A lot of the weed seed is eaten by the animals. After the hay becomes soiled, it is spread around fruit trees, berries and vegetables.

I am also try a new technique. I've started rototilling the paths between beds and mulching with weedy soil. No longer tilling the raised beds.

For my fence lines, I'm trying out a rabbit tractor, with 3 rabbits inside. It seems to be working well. :D
Last edited by DoubleDogFarm on Wed Jun 23, 2010 11:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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gixxerific
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I'm a grass man myself but will use hay, leaves anything organic.


Rabbit tractor huh? :shock:

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applestar
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DD, how long are you keeping them in the same spot and how much area does the tractor cover? Are they LOVING it? 8)

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Here is a little information on Rabbit and or Chicken tractors,

https://onestraw.wordpress.com/2008/02/15/chickenrabbit-tractors-sub-acre-ranching/

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Apple,

The tractor is rather small, about 2ft wide and 6ft long. I move it about 3 times a day. Rabbits are eating machines and what comes out the other end. :wink:

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I usually use pulled weeds and grass, but I'm experimenting with my yew clippings (evergreen shrubs) on my carrots. They were green when I put them down, but they will turn brown. I don't know if that will make a difference or not.

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I stole all of the neighbors' fallen leaves last year and what was not used to mulch the garlic beds was compacted next to the house and covered with a tarp for winter. Now I have dry leaves (and some wet) for mulch but they are dark in color so I'm going to put grass clippings over them so they don't hold heat.The back yard is full of little haystacks of raked clippings right now. I also used the cut stalks from my winter rye cover crop (mainly for my potatoes). It has the nutrients of hay without the seed problem.


I have noticed that I have much higher earthworm activity under leaf mulch than anything else, but that draws the moles into the beds.

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I have a large herd of dairy goats. At the end of winter their pens are inches deep with broken-down hay (goats are notorious hay wasters) and goat "berries". This makes a fantastic mulch. I've got the containers and most of the beds mulched about an inch or more deep with this stuff. The goat manure is like a slow release fertilizer.

I just had the main pen cleaned out and have a huge (and I mean huge) pile of this stuff. I have several gardeners in the area coming this week with bags and small trailers to haul it off.

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In the past, I used grass clippings. However, I'm using leaves this year; I stole too many last fall and need to use them up. The disadvantage is that they dry out quickly and tend to blow around. The advantage seems to be that they cover a large area very quickly. I'm also betting they will decay faster than grass clippings, which clump. Next spring, I should be able to work these into the soil, unlike grass clippings, which I need to rake off and either re-use or throw in the compost bin.

The blowing is a problem, though. The big leaves can cover an entire baby plant, and my sidewalk looks very ghetto :oops:
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gixxerific
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Leaves are mostly carbon and will take longer to break down than grass. You could add the 2 together and they will breakdown into something wonderful. :D

It is a big pain in the butt if you could chop up the leaves, with even a lawn mower they will break down faster and no blow around as much. The wormies just love leaves.

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grass clippings
broken down leaves
Texas Organic Hardwood Mulch - purchased

Tate
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There is this incredible soil yard not far from my house called Nature's Way Resources. The guy who owns it is a soil scientist. Everything they do is organic. They have this incredible 2 year old leaf mold compost. I buy a yard or two of that and have it on hand at all times. I use it for mulch, soil amendment, etc.

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farmerlon
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gixxerific wrote:Leaves are mostly carbon and will take longer to break down than grass. You could add the 2 together and they will breakdown into something wonderful. :D ...
I second that!
I have tried spreading leaves over the garden area in the Fall, and they never "finish" by Spring. They will not decompose very well on their own, and I have to till them in to the soil (in early Spring) so the earthworms and microbes can finish decomposing the leaves.
Also, as mentioned, wind can be an issue... who wants to take the time to gather all those leaves, only to have the wind take a lot of them away? :x

I would much rather incorporate the leaves into Compost piles. I think you get a lot more "bang for your buck" that way. :)

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mulch

I use 2 layers of newspaper (nothing glossy) then grass clippings on top. It totally stops the weeds and the newspaper is gone by the next year. Works great!
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stella1751
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Radish tops today. I finally picked the last one. Many had begun to form buds. They will weigh down the leaves in one of the front beds.

Gix, you wrote,
Leaves are mostly carbon and will take longer to break down than grass. You could add the 2 together and they will breakdown into something wonderful.
I don't know the science behind this, but my experience is the exact opposite. One year I dug tons of leaves into a bed in the fall, literally, about six to eight inches. By the time I was ready to plant in the spring, the leaves were completely decayed and the soil rich and black. However, the grass-clipping clumps I miss while tilling in the spring will show up the next spring. I suspect there are fossilized grass clipping tracks all over the place up here.

Farmerlon, you wrote
. . . I have to till them in to the soil (in early Spring) so the earthworms and microbes can finish decomposing the leaves.
That's exactly what I do. It works much better than grass clippings. Most of the time, a person wouldn't want to dig anything in in the fall. It's best to leave the beds up here with a crust of hardened soil on top. I also leave my mulch on top of the beds over the winter so my topsoil doesn't blow away. By then, they're pretty much a solidified mass.

Farmerlon, you also wrote,
I would much rather incorporate the leaves into Compost piles. I think you get a lot more "bang for your buck" that way."
For fun, you should read the "I've Got Leaves!" thread from last fall. I'm not talking a few inconvenient bags of leaves here. A third of them are now part of what is probably 60 cubic feet of cage-style composting. Another third, maybe just a fourth, is making leaf mold. (I'm disinclined to use this until I've cleaned up my yard.) At least a third of 'em, probably 10 to 12 bags, are still bagged. They are half moldy, half dry.

I want to get rid of them before I dig into my compost piles. The bag pile makes my place look like it needs only several shopping carts to be complete :-)

What can I say? I couldn't make myself stop. It was too good a score to pass up :twisted:
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rainbowgardener
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I remember all our Stealing Leaves! posts... :) I brought home 8 big yard waste bags full of them, which I have just recently used the very last of. I'm wishing I had collected a few more while they were available. I'm now using straw as my main brown for compost pile and don't like it as well and there are plenty more places (outside of the veggie beds) that could be mulched with them....

This fall my goal will be 12 bags!!
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mulch

In the raised bed garden I use newspaper and hardwood mulch.In my raised bed boxes I use mostly composted chopped leaves with mostly composted grass clippings(worms love this).Both mulches seem to work equally well.Also in the pathways of the raised bed garden I add straw periodically to soften my footfall(worms love this as well).Greener

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farmerlon
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stella1751 wrote:I don't know the science behind this, but my experience is the exact opposite. One year I dug tons of leaves into a bed in the fall, literally, about six to eight inches. By the time I was ready to plant in the spring, the leaves were completely decayed and the soil rich and black. ...
Digging them in, I think that makes all the difference. I was talking about attempting to "sheet compost" the leaves, by simply piling them on top of the garden bed. I have found that they never finish "going away" when piled on like that; unless the wind carries them away. You're absolutely right, digging in the leaves makes all the difference.

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gixxerific
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Yes what farmelon said Stella. If you dig them in the worms just love the leaves and will break them down much better, along with the moisture in the ground it is not bad. But I'm saying leaving the leaves on top of the ground unshredded and they will be around for a while.

I remember the leave stealing thread. :lol: I didn't partake so much because as I said there is a goldmine right up the road where I can get leaves anytime I want by the truckload. A virtual leaf mine if you will.

What I'm getting at is we could go there right now and there will be leaves from who knows how long ago about a foot deep. Some of these leaves may be several years old. Try doing that with grass it will be gone.

Think about if you cut your grass and leave the clippings they are gone pretty soon thereafter, but in the fall after the leaves fall you have to rake them up or they will be there next spring.

I can't wait for the night leaf runs this fall. That was fun just listening to you all. :lol:

Peace Stella

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stella1751
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Semantics

My bad, Gix. When I wrote, "Next spring, I should be able to work these into the soil," I assumed everyone would know I meant "dig them into the soil." I suppose I could stand over them with a bullwhip and tell them to get the lead out, but I thinking working/digging is ever so much more effective :lol:
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stella1751
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I've got it! This thread has been bugging me. I've been wondering why Farmerlon and Gix would both insist I dig my leaves in instead of working them in, as was mentioned in my original post. Then it hit me: the infinitive "to work" has different regional connotations. It makes sense!

Okay. So up here, in the grand state of Wyoming, if you work cattle, you actually perform a variety of herd maintenance tasks, unless, of course, you are a dog or a horse, in which case "to work the cattle" means manipulating their actions based on the cowboy's commands.

Similarly, if you work the soil, you till or dig or fork or rake or whatever it. In other words, you in some way change the soil's composition. Ergo, the infinitive of this action verb: to work. Regionally, this means to till, to dig, to fork, to rake, to whatever. Truth is, I think this might be an Upper Great Plains thing because I've never met anyone who didn't recognize this verb's connotations in this context.

Okay. As an infinitive used in the infinitive phrase "to work these," these referencing leaves, the Wyoming connotation is to change the composition of the leaves while the prepositional phrase "into the soil" suggests the leaves will wind up in the soil.

Now, I know Gix is from Missouri, the Show-Me State, so I can only guess at what "to work" means down there when used in conjunction with the object "the soil." Farmerlon, I forgot to note where you are from. What do natives of your state mean when they say "to work something into the soil"?

Orgoveg, I have a feeling we all have a wonderful experience in store for us now, or I wouldn't dream of hijacking your thread in this manner. I got an ugly vision of myself saying "to work something into the soil" in Gix's and Farmerlon's states and winding up in a 6' x 6' x 3' plot :lol:
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I should be able to work these into the soil
This is a common saying around here. We understand it's meaning as, "incorporate"

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I myself am using grass clippings. I've heard some say that they will grow grass in your garden, but I haven't found that to be the case. I lay them on top of my garden, and then I don't till the rows till fall.

The tilling issue when you have a mulch is really the reason why I don't put it over my entire garden. You see, my garden is so wide that I can't help but to walk down through the rows to tie, prune, and harvest. By stomping around, I end up compacting the soil, so I in turn till (hoe) the paths in-between rows 3 or 4 times a month. If I mulched the rows, I'd still have to till them to fix the damage I do by trompsing around in there. But....the tilling would disrupt the mulch, thus defeating the purpose. So, this year I'm going to mulch where I don't walk and till where I do.

How do you guys handle the mulch/hoe issue?
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garden5 wrote:
How do you guys handle the mulch/hoe issue?
I have the same issue, if the mulch is thick enough. I will rake the mulch out of the way than hoe up the ground than replace the mulch. Or wait until I have another load of clippings ready for deployment.

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I had to cover my leaf mulch with grass clippings. Tthe dark leaves held the heat from a hot sunny day and scorched some of the leaves on my peppers.

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