Mulching.

Johnno

The Living Force
I have been mulching for some years, mainly due to the previous seasons dry conditions and water restrictions. I've tried pine bark, sugar cane and chipped timber from my property. Best method so far has been using newspapers (about ten sheets thick) with coarse wood chips on top. Not only does it keep the water in and slows evaporation, it also acts as a more natural weed mat than plastic sheeting or poly propylene woven mats. The newspapers allows the plants and worms breathe a bit better and lets the water in following a good soak. The newspaper degrades over time too, so once and awhile you have to re-mulch and till/air out the soil.

Came across the newspaper method whilst reading an old magazine at the doctor's waiting room. Original article was from the ABC gardening magazine. Pretty well the same article here.

http://www.abc.net.au/gardening/stories/s972620.htm
 

Al Today

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Johnno said:
Best method so far has been using newspapers (about ten sheets thick) with coarse wood chips on top.

I agree. I've been doing this for years and is by far the best way seen.!.!.!
:) :) :)
 

Mr.Anderson

Jedi Master
In addition to newspaper, straw, cow pies, if you can get them and compost work well also. Some bark, like oak, is very acidic.
 

Al Today

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I've been using pine mulch. A few years back the woods was on file and got to my big tall pines that were my western edge windbreak. They lit up like an old xmas tree. Whoosh... Anyway, I ended up with a few years worth of mulch composting.
Good stuff...
 

Skyfarmr

Jedi Master
Would like to second the newspaper/straw mulching with an additional precaution. I've found that the newspaper is favored by earwigs for nesting, and earwigs like to make a snack out of some plants. So I sprinkle ground eggshells around base of plant before putting down newspaper and again after spreading straw...they don't like the scratchiness and tend to find somewhere else to nest. Then if they still persists I sprinkle diatomaceous earth, which only works when it is dry. it needs to be reapplied after watering/rain.

Back to the mulching though, we sometimes spread the straw out on the lawn before we mow and then spread the clippings on the garden. SEems to prevent the grass clippings from getting matted and moldy and it chops up the straw too. This year, however, that method's been difficult to do because of the lack of rain, decreased mowing, and the only thing growing are "weeds"... and we don't need more weed seeds in the garden.
 

Al-ith

The Force is Strong With This One
Thanks for the good tips Skyfarmer. How fine do you grind the egg shells? I grind them in a coffee grinder for extra calcium in the soil. Is that to fine for the earwigs or is it OK?
 

Skyfarmr

Jedi Master
Al-ith said:
Thanks for the good tips Skyfarmer. How fine do you grind the egg shells? I grind them in a coffee grinder for extra calcium in the soil. Is that to fine for the earwigs or is it OK?

Sorry for such a delayed response... but that's exactly what we do too.. grind them up with a coffee grinder; tried food processor once but it seemed to scour the inside of the plastic bowl. :(

Eggshells also add calcium to soil... which I believe may be helping our tomatoes escape blossom end rot that so many other gardeners seem to be having problems with this year, because we've done this in previous seasons. (It isn't an immediate source of Ca, but will accumulate and become available as soil breaks it down)
 

Al-ith

The Force is Strong With This One
Thanks for your response Skyfarmr, I will get the ground eggshells around the stems of my pepper plants as it seems that the earwigs like them a lot.
Another tip to improve soil is using wood ash from your stove.I also burn the left over chewed bones from the dogs and bones from the meat I had myself in the wood burner.
 
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