The Perfect FREE Mulch

| 6/4/2014 9:18:00 AM

beans with mulch

Organic gardening is about two things: weed control and pest control. Successful gardening is about supplying the plants with nutrients and sufficient moisture.

One of the important elements of Permaculture is to mimic the systems found in nature. As leaves fall from the trees to the ground in a forest, they form a natural mulch that builds topsoil. We can follow this example by using leaves as mulch in our garden.

Mulching With Straw

straw mulch

In the garden, if bare ground is exposed to sun, weeds will grow. Weeds compete with your plants for food and moisture. Weeds provide safe haven for insects. Covering the spaces between your plants and between your rows with mulch prevents weeds from growing, saving you hours and hours of manual labor, weeding by hand or with a hoe. Mulch also protects the soil from the sun, trapping and preserving moisture.

Many people mulch with straw and we will use wheat straw in our garden for certain plants or when we have used up our preferred leaf mulch. However, all wheat or rye straw will still have some bits of grain. Eventually these will sprout and produce some of the most  difficult to remove "weeds" you are likely to encounter.

We do our best to avoid this by leaving the straw exposed to the weather for one year before using, so that any remaining grain will rot. While this will remove the viability of most seeds, some will survive and eventually sprout, becoming a plant that must be removed. Straw is also expensive and the price goes up every year. Straw sold to farmers for barn bedding is increasingly produced as large round bales rather than the tradition small, square bales. The round bales are extremely heavy and difficult to transport. All the more reason to consider leaves as the better alternative.

5/17/2018 5:48:11 PM

I've been making compost(heated naturally to 160°) from grass clippings(nitrogen) and leaves/wood chips (carbons) This will work alone by mulching with clippings. Even been storing clippings on spots to kill off creeping bellflower, or on pre tilled garden. Be careful of fungicides, not even compostable, WILL kill stuff! Not recommended to use anything you are not sure of what it collected. Some things keep on living like we do. Thanks everyone for sharing!

2/1/2015 7:17:08 AM

I wouldnt use other peoples bagged leaves,you can oft times purchase leaf mold from the smaller towns,(with some of the same risks)my leaves blow away too(not quite as bad if you keep them wet for awhile and walk them in,you can do as I do ,lay branches on them and if you have any spare dirt sprinkle a little on them,it wont save them all,but it sure helps and you can go to the edge of the woods were the wind lets the leaves accumulate and get the heavt wet precomposted leaves,they tend to stick together pretty well and the real diehard could lay old fencing on top the leaveves to hold them in place till they mold together

1/28/2015 9:03:34 AM

I thought I was the ONLY one who took the pick up out and gathered leaf bags from sidewalks, allies, and did this. I even have my family stopping and throwing them in the trunks of our cars! I put them in heavy black contractor bags when we get them home and pour in horse manure tea or compost tea. Then seal them.We leave them in the back of our garage for the winter "to season".

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