Time To Lay Out The Vegetable Garden Mulch!
As of the early part of May, the veggies in my backyard garden were coming along and they were finally big enough that I could stop weeding with my electric or gas tiller, hula hoe, and push-pull hoe…and start gatherin’ up my compost ’cause it’s time to spread out my vegetable garden mulch!
Earlier this spring, I raked up a boatload of leaves…about 50 heaping tote boxes full of them. I actually bagged the leaves and stored the bags in anticipation of using the leaves as my main garden mulching component when the time came to utilize them.
Time to Mulch
I began the mulching process by laying out several layers of newspaper or cardboard…topping it off with several inches of leaf mulch. Don’t do this on a windy day unless you want to chase newspapers all over the garden!
Of course, when I started my garden mulching, there was almost no wind. But as soon as I started laying down newspapers, what do you think happened? Yep…the wind kicked up and gave me fits.
There are two methods I use to conquer the wind factor…
- Wet down the papers to keep them in place.
- Throw a little mulch in strategic areas on the papers to hold them in position.
I prefer the latter. For me, it is much easier to throw a little mulch on the newspapers than grab the garden hose every few minutes and wet them down.
To make sure I had enough papers to finish the job, I only used two layers…even though my preference would have been to use three or four layers.
TIP #1: Use only biodegradable newspaper or cardboard. Slick-covered material commonly used in newspaper advertisement inserts…and plastic tape typically found on boxes…do not compost well and we want everything to become one with the soil by the end of the growing season.
TIP #2: Never throw away newspaper and cardboard. There are so many uses for them and being a part of the mulching process is just one of their advantages. For my garden, I used every Sunday newspaper I bought since last fall and every cardboard box I had acquired in that same period.
My first priority was mulching around the plants to keep the weeds from choking them. I was thoroughly amazed how quickly I went through all 50 bags of leaves! I thought that I would have more than enough to mulch between the rows but, I barely had enough leaves to cover the row areas between the veggie plants.
This behooved me to search for other free sources of mulch material. Because, I certainly was not about to go bankrupt buying mulch for a 2,500 square foot garden!
As luck would have it, I spotted a tree removal crew at work in a nearby neighborhood and I offered them a place to dump their wood chips…a win-win situation…is it not?
They were happy to oblige but apologized for the fact that they only had half a load on their 5-ton truck. Believe me when I say that half a truckload was more than sufficient to finish the garden. I actually had enough wood chips left over to mulch all my bushes and flower beds as well!
After filling a fair number of tote boxes, you wouldn’t believe what appeared inside that big wood chip pile!
It Was a Big Ole’ Tree Stump!
The tree removal crew decided to forgo chipping the last piece…the stump…and just threw it in the back of the truck on top of the wood chips. Then, when they dumped it in my driveway, the stump was buried inside. I didn’t notice it until I made a sizeable dent in the pile. But…there it was…starting to stick out…getting bigger and bigger as I dug deeper and deeper into the pile.
I estimate that it was about a 200 pound chunk of wood!
I finally exposed enough of that stump to remove it from the pile and, using my handy-dandy dolly, I relocated it to my woods and gave the squirrels their own bench from which to watch me mulching my garden.
Mulching a section at a time over the course of 3 to 4 weeks…row-by-row…the garden was finally completed.
And, I think, it looks pretty darn good! I even had enough left over to “newspaper + cardboard + mulch” the watermelon patch!
It took over a hundred tote boxes full of wood chips to finish the entire undertaking. Add that to the 50 tote boxes of leaves, and this year’s garden has a tremendous amount of compost material that will help keep the soil cool and moist, add plant nutrition to the soil for next year, and guard against the dreaded weeds that seem to be the healthiest and strongest green plant in every backyard garden.
Take a look at Jim’s Garden Adventure 2017 Chapter 5 “Pickin’ Produce”…
Return to Jim’s Garden Adventure’s main page…
Question of the Day
Early in the growing process, it can be difficult to differentiate between weeds and veggies in your garden.
So, pray tell…how can you tell the difference?
Well, if the plants come out of the ground easily when you pull on them, they are probably a vegetable plant.
Short joke…not “mulch” more to say…
Even though I don’t have “mulch” more to say, I bet you do! Say something in the comments section or zap me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.