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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Mulching around

Virginia soil is terrible when compared to that in my home state of Indiana! There's a lot of clay and in some ares I just use a pick axe (aka a Virginia shovel) since the rocks will just break a shovel! It's going to take me years to get the soil up to snuff, especially for my tropical plants, which need a lot of water but require good drainage.

I have a nice compost pile going now. I add a truck bed full of horse manure from my neighbors every couple months and every few weeks I clean out the chicken coop, so I've got great soil amendments! But what about weed control?

When I start a new bed, the first thing I do is put down some plastic for a while to kill off the grass or weeds in the area. I'm not against using herbicides, but a lot of my beds are really close to plants I'm afraid I'd accidentally spray. After I get the soil amended and the plants in, I mulch for weed control and looks.

I'm amazed how much people spend for mulch! I've seen people walk out with a cart full of little $10 bags of mulch, in an area where there is a HUGE source of FREE mulch! The local dump cuts up tons of trees and yard waste a year, and it's free for the taking. When I go to the dump (we don't have trash service) I'll take the pitchfork along. After dumping the trash I head over to the giant mulch piles, ram the back of the truck into the pile and start loading! After about 10 minutes I have loaded the same amount of mulch I'd pay over $200 at a store.

In Virginia landfill mulch is usually made of a mix of hardwoods and pine, with the occasional azaleas mixed in. I always go for the stuff in the middle of the pile. Don't be tempted to get the fresh stuff, it'll just tie up the nitrogen in your soil or fertilizer as it starts to decompose, and may be more likely to spread plant diseases (I don't worry to much about the diseases, since the mulch is local odds are my trees have been exposed to anything that could be in the pile). The only real drawback is every once in a while I have to pick out a few pieces of plastic trash bags that got sucked into the shredder.

1 comment:

Gotta Garden said...

What a delightful blog you have! I'm glad to know you're pleased with the landfill mulch...I had wondered...and am one of those people who...ahem...pay too much...although I go directly to Norfleet's (and pay too much!...lol!)in F'burg! I like that really fine, super fine, whatever one they produce.

Loved your moonflower post, too! I'm sorry I didn't plant any this year...although I think the reason I didn't was that I wanted to find a spot where I could better appreciate them...still thinking...it will come to me one day!

Welcome to blogging! It's a great gardening community!