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August 16, 2012

Mulch Types

Normally, when people think of mulch types they recall the stuff that is sold in bags in box stores. After all that's what's called mulch. But behold, there are many more possibilities for mulching the garden.

Yesterday I was cleaning my garden beds in preparation for the fall planting season and instead of piling the weeds into the compost bin I put them aside, in a wheelbarrow. Why? Because weeds make excellent mulch. Note right here though, if the weeds have seeds on them, do not use them as mulch, but compost instead. I lucked out and picked the whole wheelbarrow of non-seeded weeds, such as grasses and small brush, as well as spent vegetable stems, including my beloved cowpea. To top off the pickings I cut the branches of some vegetation that was intruding through the chain link fence. So, here is what I ended up with:

Certainly, you cannot just pile that stuff into the garden beds and call it work well done. As I was talking to my mother on the phone (wearing the passive headset : Amazon link), I managed to chop all this stuff with my trusted Felco friend into small pieces within two hours. Now I have two bucket fulls of nice mulch:

So, now I have something to work with. I spread this mulch into the bed I was working on, about four inches thick. This amount was enough to cover about twelve square feet densely:

Unusual mulch type you say? Hang on just a second.

This mulch consists of mainly two types of material: Green (weed grasses and leaves) and Brown (dried spent vegetable stems such as cowpea, amaranth, and okra, as well as brush stems). This is a perfect composting combination. This mulch will serve a dual purpose up until I am ready to plant in September. It will keep the ground covered to protect it from drying out, it will decompose some on the bottom to provide nutrients, and it will encourage insect life which is needed for the garden ecosystem.

Whatever you do, mulching with any types of mulch is better than keeping the ground bare. Weeds are opportunists, they will propagate whenever they find a spot that is not covered. You might want to look around your yard to see if there anything that can be chopped up and used to improve your beds.


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