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Making Mulch

November 3rd, 2012

The fall ritual of making mulch has begun. When we came back from Ohio, our trusty mower came with us. Mr Chiots has been out every evening mowing a portion of the lawn and collecting the lawn & leaf clippings. Generally, I’m the one doing all the mulching in the fall, but this year I’m busy planting so Mr Chiots has taken over the task.

When it comes to mulch, this is my favorite kind. Nothing promotes earth worm activity like a mix of grass and leaves. This mix also suppresses weeds in the spring as well, which saves me valuable time. If you put down some rock/mineral dust underneath it, you’ll notice marked improvement in your soil with just one winter. I have found a combination of about 25% grass to 75% leaves to be ideal.

Over the past week, we’ve been mulching like mad, all the walkways in the garden, the foundation borders, the chicken run, etc. Any we have leftover we’ll put in a big pile somewhere for use in next spring and summer. At our previous place in Ohio we didn’t have a ton of lawn and we collected leaves from the neighbors.

We have more than enough of each here, which makes me happy because the less I can bring in from elsewhere the happier I am. I love knowing exactly where everything comes from!

What’s your favorite kind of mulch to use in the garden?

18 Comments to “Making Mulch”
  1. Joan on November 3, 2012 at 5:46 am

    Same as yours! Leaves and grass are great. I usually end up using some straw around the garlic – not sure why though… Habit I guess. I should think about using this mix instead.

    Reply to Joan's comment

  2. whit on November 3, 2012 at 5:47 am

    Sorry to be such a wordy birdy lately.

    Question though: when you say you place rock/mineral dust under your mulch, are you referring to the greensand you alerted me to a few months back?

    Reply to whit's comment

    • Susy on November 4, 2012 at 9:39 am

      Yes, greensand, rock phosphate, azomite, granite dust and other such powders.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  3. Canned Quilter on November 3, 2012 at 7:55 am

    We have been doing exactly the same thing here! Our goes around our fruit trees, on the garden and any leftover goes into the compost stalls. We also mix in rabbit manure from under the rabbit cages.

    Reply to Canned Quilter's comment

  4. jennifer fisk on November 3, 2012 at 8:05 am

    I prefer straw mulch on my garlic. I put it on when I plant in the fall and leave through harvest. I actually like the looks of straw mulch all over the garden. For my perennial plants, I use seafood compost or dark bark.

    Reply to jennifer fisk's comment

  5. Heidi on November 3, 2012 at 8:28 am

    Jealous. Our plan for the day is to scour the neighborhood for leaves. My family and I are going to rake a senior citizen’s yard too. So hopefully we will have a good supply by the end of the day :). I am always afraid to mix in my grass, the hateful bermuda, for fear that I will replant it in my beds. That grass is hateful!

    Reply to Heidi's comment

  6. Sherri on November 3, 2012 at 9:15 am

    I am using a combination of grass clipping, leaves, organic flax straw and spent greens from the garden :)

    Reply to Sherri's comment

  7. Songbirdtiff on November 3, 2012 at 9:15 am

    I love using leaves in the garden! I have different favorite mulches for different situations, but I like leaves for putting the garden to bed, pine needles for mulching around plants in the summer, and sweet gum balls (from my trees) in flower beds for water retention and keeping critters out of my flower beds. If I have to buy mulch, I use straw, but I try to do that as little as possible.

    Reply to Songbirdtiff's comment

    • Susy on November 3, 2012 at 1:01 pm

      Great idea to use the sweetgum balls in the flowerbeds for pest control!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  8. KimH on November 3, 2012 at 10:48 am

    I love using pure green grass mulch in the garden but I use mostly leaves around here in the fall. We have a chipper shredder we run them thru so they break down much faster, but they’re still wonderful well into summer.
    By fall, they’ve completely broken down & the soil and company loves it.

    Reply to KimH's comment

    • KimH on November 3, 2012 at 10:59 am

      Many many years ago, I gardened in a very loam sandy soil.. and I would go to town and pick up bags of fresh cut grass off the curb on weekends. I would put this fresh cut green grass at least 6inches thick on my garden, leaving it a couple inches away from my plants..
      While its true that this may bind up some of the nitrogen temporarily, (add some bloodmeal if it concerns you) my garden did the BEST it ever did in all my years of gardening when I used this method. I never lost one plant due to it heating up. What it did to my soil too was a miracle. It would break down pretty fast since I was in Texas and the sun will break down anything quickly but my soil became beautiful and fluffy and I could stick my hand down into my soil at least 10 or 12 inches without any struggle. It was sooo awesome!

      Conventional garden wisdom will tell you not to do this, but I’ve been known to be a garden rebel (ok, a Rebel in all regards ;-)) and do lots of things you “arent supposed to do” and usually it always works out well for me. This one definitely did.

      Reply to KimH's comment

      • Susy on November 3, 2012 at 1:02 pm

        I’m a garden rebel too, I never hill my potatoes!

        to Susy's comment

  9. kristin @ going country on November 3, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    Sheep bedding. Not a pleasant smell, but pleasant for the plants. As long as it’s not so ammonia-heavy that it burns the plants. Not that I have ever done that. Ahem.

    Reply to kristin @ going country's comment

  10. Chris on November 3, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    Yup, leaves are great as there are such an abundant, free, supply of them!! I saw an interesting video on how to chop them up, if you don’t have a shredder…other than mowing over them a couple of times…place your weed wacker in a large, garbage can, fill with leaves and turn on the wacker and it will shred the leaves in a couple of minutes!
    A really pretty mulch, although not free, to most of us, is hazelnut shells! I also use them for paths around the garden…beautiful color, long lasting, and the crunch underfoot is really fun….except on bare feet! :)
    I also use oyster shells….a nice deterrant for slugs!!

    Reply to Chris's comment

  11. Melanie in California on November 3, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    Heidi, I feel your pain! We are awash in Bermuda grass. My husband’s proposed solution was (egad) Roundup in a 25 gallon drum. I countered his proposal with my own: 3 Southdown Babydoll sheep.

    I won! So now I keep the weeds and Bermuda mostly controlled AND the sheep contribute to my composting and raised bed mulching with used bedding. Here in the San Joaquin Valley we need lots of mulch in the 3-digit summers too!

    Reply to Melanie in California's comment

  12. daisy on November 3, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    We love pine straw mulch. It looks naturalized, no matter where you use it!

    Reply to daisy's comment

  13. Misti on November 3, 2012 at 8:11 pm

    We mulch in place, leaving the clippings on the lawn instead of of using it elsewhere. While we have some leaves, we just don’t have enough to really use as we mostly have pines in our yard.

    Looks like a neat way to have mulch though.

    Reply to Misti's comment

  14. Stacy on November 10, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    Susie, do you ever find having the mulch so deep around the trees encourages mice and things to make a house there and nibble at the trees? This is something I’d like to try but we have mice that enjoy a chew on the cambium of young trees and I’d rather not encourage them :)

    Reply to Stacy's comment

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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