Mulch in vegetable garden?

okieladybugFebruary 7, 2014

I have visited here before (a few years ago) but we've since moved and I'm just now able to start gardening at our home. I plan to put in a vegetable garden (possibly raised beds, but have to see if DH will have time to help me with construction.) I read that you should mulch the garden to help retain water and prevent weeds, but I have a silly newbie question. Since some of my plants will be started outdoors from seed, do I wait until the seeds sprout and the plants are well established before mulching around them? If I just cover the entire bed with mulch first, will the seeds be able to push up through that?

I also saw somewhere that you could put down a thick layer of newspapers to kill weeds and then mulch over that. Is that something you recommend? And again, same question about the seeds pushing up through it? Doesn't make sense that they would be able to, but I'm a newbie.

And last question, how thick a layer of mulch do you use in the garden? I'm planting vegetables, herbs and some flowers...sunflowers (to harvest the seeds, hopefully), nasturtium, marigold around the tomatoes, etc. I found a place near me that sells mulch by the cubic yard (natural for $27/cu yd and cedar for $30/cu yd.) Which type do you recommend?

Thank you so much! I appreciate the input!

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I don't mulch until the soil warms up. I seldom use newspaper because none of my beds have a border and my wife gets in a hurry with the rider and slings leaves and shredded news papers over the lawn. The shredded leaves I can live with but the shredded newspapers look out of place on the lawn.

I have better luck leaving my soil bare to let the spring sun warm it. My soil temp now is mid 30's, air temp is mid 20's, both too cold for planting. After the soil warms, the seeds come up, I them mulch to conserve water and keep down weeds. I have never bought mulch, I just use what I can find for free. I have good luck using shredded leaves, grass clippings and hay for mulch. I don't put green grass clippings around my plants because they can heat too much.


    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 12:37PM
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wulfletons(Zone 7a)

I also wait until the soil is warmer before I mulch, so my seedlings are already pretty big by that time. I have some raised beds and some beds that are not raised. I use newspapers to mulch areas where there are lots of weeds sometimes, and it does seem to help. I don't have a weed problem in my raised beds, so I just use shredded leaves or wood chips.
Last year was my first year gardening in a new home so I did end up having to buy some mulch (bagged wood chips from a local nursery) but this year I will have shredded enough leaves and collected enough wood chips to get me through.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 2:38PM
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Hi Ladybug, welcome back to the forum and congratulations on having your own place to garden.

This year will be only my third summer at my new house so I feel like I'm still in the "start-up" phase for my garden and it's all fairly fresh in my mind. I'll give you all the advice I can think of and hope some of it might help!

First, do everything you can to remove grass and weeds from your new bed location. Once you think you've done enough, do some more :) My biggest problem with getting new beds established has been fighting the bermuda grass and weed seeds that proliferated here before I came. Like everyone in the history of the universe (probably), I was in a hurry to get my first spring crops in (onion sets, I believe) and hired a landscaper to help me get the plot dug and amended. I was at work when they dug out the grass and added the new garden ready soil and dug it in, so am not sure they went to the depth and took the care I'd asked for, I just know I've battled bermuda ever since. This is a common refrain on the board so I don't think I'm alone.

I do dig down and turn in my clay soil into my garden ready mix topdressing a little more every year. We turned soil and pulled rhizomes for hours and hours before planting a single thing last year and it really made an improvement. I'm hoping this year will be even better. Turning the soil does expose new weed seeds to sprout each year, so you have to deal with pulling or mulching to deal with those, so I'll tell you how we handled that...

OK, on to mulching. In the first bed prep in the new year (Feb/Mar because I am not an early bird, no matter how much I would like to be), I lay several layers of cardboard in the paths and mulch with the less expensive cedar mulch (the nursery I buy at has two types, one more finely shredded than the other. The more finely shredded is more expensive and is supposed to "not float" and wash away in big rains). The advantage to cedar is its insect-resistant properties. I actually prefer eucalyptus mulch for the same reason, but it's not always easily available.

Since I am not planting the paths, the cardboard and mulch can go down right away while I'm in prep mode. Newspaper is supposed to accomplish the same thing (suppress weeds and break down to enrich the soil) but I don't take the newspaper and can always find cardboard. Worms love cardboard and come up an eat it and loosen the clay soil below. I love adding cardboard each season and seeing how rich the soil looks underneath by the next season! The mulch on top retains moisture and keeps the cardboard from blowing away. If it's windy when you are putting it down, you might need to weight it down a little until you get the mulch on, and it can help to spray the mulch down with a hose to get the cardboard nice and wet to get the breakdown process started. I also add several inches of mulch to the paths, maybe 6 inches, because I have my rows to either side raised up and this gets me up out of the "canyon" when I'm walking in the garden. Since the raised rows keep the mulch in the "canyon" during rain, I can buy the less finely shredded mulch here.

Ok, so on to the planting areas. I leave the mulch mostly off until the soil is a little warmer and I'm planting out my warm season crops. I did put a really light layer of mulch on my onions last year (maybe 3/4"-1") at the very beginning of the season, and added a little more later when I was planting my tomatoes.

I add the mulch when I'm planting my warm season crops, since by then the soil is warmed up. I don't add cardboard/newpaper to the actual planting beds because I plant my plants very close together (bio-intensive method) and they grow together to shade out lots of weed growth. I put a few inches (3"?) covering the bed and make a little "well" where the plants go. When the plants get bigger and taller than the mulch, I spread it a little closer to their stems. In areas I am going to direct-seed (like for zucchini or cucumbers) I just spread the mulch apart to see the bare dirt, and when the plants sprout and are bigger, I scoot the mulch up to the stems.

Hope that helps! Here's a pic of how my arrangement looks early in the season before everything has grown up so much you can't see the beds. I've also found it's better for me to put my tomato cages up right when I plant the tomatoes, or I will not get to it in a timely manner and will have to fight getting them around huge plants. Good luck!

And when the jungle is growing in!

    Bookmark   February 8, 2014 at 11:14AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Hi Okieladybug,

Welcome back!

First of all, it depends on what you're starting out with. If you have already prepared your soil and amended it, you can lay down several thicknesses of newspaper or cardboard and put mulch on top and that will help a great deal in preventing weeds from sprouting. Then you put your mulch on top. The newspaper and/or cardboard prevents seeds from sprouting beneath them...or, if they sprout, they can't break through the layers of cardboard and paper and reach the light and grow. If weeds sprout in the mulch you put on top of the newspaper and/or cardboard, those materials keep their roots from reaching the soil beneath and make it simple for you to pull the shallowly-rooted weeds out of your mulch. If you are starting out with grass sod, weeds, etc. I refer you back to everything Mia said. You absolutely must remove all the bermuda grass stolons and runners, and if you have Johnson grass, the same thing is true. Otherwise, you'll be fighting a losing battle with them both throughout the garden season.

If you had a year to kill before planting a new garden, you could put down a layer or two of thick black plastic (preferably 4 mm to 6 mm thick) and weigh down the edges so it won't blow away. Then you could wait for the black plastic plus the heat from the summer sun to smother out and kill the bermuda grass (if you have any) and to solarize the soil and kill the weed seeds. Then you'd amend the soil, adding plenty of organic matter. The organic matter helps in several ways: it breaks up densely compacted soil and makes it drain better, it leaves air pores in between particles of minerals and organic matter, and that is where the plant roots the open spaces. It also provides nutrition for the plants as the organic matter breaks down, and in the looser soil you will find it easier to plant, to harvest root crops and to pull out or dig out weeds. Once your soil is in good shape, then you put the mulch on top of it to keep it that way. As the mulch breaks down (which it does on a continual basis), it breaks down into humus/compost and further enriches the soil and feeds the plants. So, mulch not only helps keep soil moist and helps reduce the amount of weeds you have to deal with, but it also improves the soil on a perpetual basis. Remember that heat and moisture contribute to how quickly all organic matter, including mulch, decomposes, so mulching is not one of those areas where you do it once and it is done. It is a perpetual job. It also makes soil improvement a cinch over the years, with the mulch enriching the soil as it breaks down.

I like to leave mulch on the beds over the winter so that weed seeds are less likely to sprout, but I do rake it back out of the way when it is time to sow seeds. In some beds where I grow herbs and flowers that self-sow seeds every year (chamomile, Laura Bush petunia, larkspur and poppy seeds germinate in my garden as early as December or early January some years) I rake back that mulch in December so the volunteers can sprout. On beds that will have transplants put into the ground later in the season (tomatoes, peppers and the like), I'll rake back the mulch only a couple of weeks before my targeted planting date so the soil can warm up more before I put the plants in the ground. After I plant, I rake the mulch back into place, but only a thin layer of about an inch to keep weed seeds from sprouting. I want for the soil to stay as warm as possible without it being so bare that weeds erupt everywhere. As spring goes on and the temperatures warm up not only the air temperatures but the soil temperatures, I continue to add mulch. My goal is to have 3 or 4" of mulch on each bed before the real summer heat arrives sometime in June. A thick layer of mulch can keep your soil 20 or more degrees cooler than bare soil that is exposed to full sun all day long.

There are various forms of mulch. My favorite bottom layer in growing beds is cardboard and newspaper, and in the pathways I use a high-quality landscape fabric covered with hay, chopped or shredded leaves and grass clippings. On the beds, I use a variety of things. Because my garden is huge, I'd go broke buying mulch, so I try to use materials I can find here on our property. Sometimes some of my ranching neighbors give me old, spoiled hay, but you have to be careful with something like that because there are some herbicides sprayed on hayfields (and city parks and golf courses) that can persist and kill everything in your garden. Because of that, I use hay a lot less than I used to. Every time we mow (and we mow from 1 to 3 acres depending on the time of the year), we catch the grass clippings in our lawn mowers' grass catchers and add the clippings to the garden beds or pathways. I've done that the entire 15 years we've gardened here, and it has done more to improve the garden than anything else I've done. Using autumn leaves is just as beneficial, as long as you chop them up or shred them first so they are in small pieces that stick together and stay in place). Because the grass breaks down quickly, it continuously adds nutrients to the soil. I am in a pretty dry area, so generally can add grass clippings the same day the grass is cut. I add thin layers of a half-inch or less each week on top of the existing mulch. Spreading it thin like that keeps it from heating up and turning into a slimy mess. If I lived in an area that had heavier rainfall, I might have to let the grass clippings dry out a few days before adding them to the garden beds or pathways.

When I have to buy mulch, I buy whatever is cheapest but is of the minimal quality I expect. Sometimes the cheapest mulch isn't the best....for example, some bags of cheap wood mulch are ground-up, chipped or shredded wood pallets or whiskey barrels (the smell of the wood is the giveaway). I prefer mixed hardwood mulch that contains a variety of wood sources. I think cedar looks nice and smells good, but used it for 3 or 4 years and couldn't tell it made any difference whatsoever in pest levels, which was a major disappointment. One thing I learned our first few years here (and we are out in the country) was that the eastern red cedar trees harbored tiny ticks that jumped out of the trees and landed on people and pets who got close to them. Once we took out all the cedar trees in our yard and anywhere close to our house and garden, all the ticks were gone and they've never come back. I was so excited by that. It did shake my faith in cedar being pest-repellent. Although it repels some pests, it harbors others. Buy whatever sort of mulch appeals to you and makes you happy. That could vary depending on what sort of soil you have and on how flat your garden plot is, or isn't. When I use wood mulch, it rarely is the top layer because it tends to float away since I garden on a sloping piece of property. If I have chopped/shredded autumn leaves or grass clippings on top of the wood, they pack down on top of it and help hold it in place.

There are many forms of mulch. I use lots of nasturtiums, dwarf zinnias, ornamental sweet potatoes, chamomile, Laura Bush petunias (a very heat-tolerant and drought-tolerant petunia that is bred from petunias native to Texas and South America), dwarf marigolds and other herbs as a living mulch underneath taller plants. Even my watermelon plants are used as a living mulch beneath widely-spaced okra plants. You also can use clover and other low-growing plants as a living mulch. Normally I like to let the living mulch plants shade the ground under taller plants, but I'll still have an inch or two of mulch on the soil under the living mulch plants so they don't get invaded by weeds. In my corn-growing areas, I often grow vining variety of gourds, pumpkins and winter squash to serve as a living mulch underneath the corn plants. The ground also is mulched with hay or grass clippings to keep the weeds down, but it mainly is the shade of the dense squash plantings that keep the weeds to a minimum in the corn bed. Because my garden is very large, I employ various forms of mulch in various areas....depending on what is growing in each area, the quality of the soil in that area, the slope of the ground, etc. I try to tailor the mulch to what the area needs.

My first few years I used pine bark mulch and worked it into the dense red clay at the end of each growing season. That helped a great deal to improve the tilth of my soil. It did mean I had to buy more mulch every year, but it was necessary at that point in the life of our garden because we started out mostly with very dense, very compacted, very red clay that was very fertile but that did not allow roots to grow freely and did not absorb moisture well. Nowadays, I just add grass clippings, hay and leaves when they are available. Using mulch will improve your garden is so many ways that I always am shocked my how many people don't use mulch in veggie gardens.

One additional note about using hay: it will come full of weed seeds, so if you use hay, you always need a layer of something between the hay mulch and the soil so that the weed seeds cannot sprout in the ground right beneath the mulch.

Keep in mind if you want to garden as organically as possible that you need to be very careful with the sources you use for organic matter that you bring onto your property and put in your garden. You have no idea what has been sprayed on trees or fed to them, for example, before they are chipped, shredded or ground up and turned into mulch. I avoid the use of municipal compost because (and this would vary from city to city and even from one batch to the next) they tend to have lots of items in there that I don't want in my garden. You'll often find shredded plastic, rocks, little pieces of aluminum cans, etc. If you use municipal compost, sometimes you can remove a lot of that unwanted junk by putting your compost throw a compost screen or sieve before you add it to your garden beds.

My favorite way to mulch a new bed that I've just built (which means it has freshly-amended soil with good soil structure and tilth) is to put down a half-inch of home-made compost first (an inch would be better, but I cannot make enough compost to use that much on one bed at one time), then a layer of cardboard two thicknesses deep or newspaper 8-12 sheets of newsprint thick, then an inch of grass clippings, hay or chopped/shredded autumn leaves. This is for beds into which I'm transplanting plants. I cut holes in the newspaper or cardboard and put the plants in the ground. If I am sowing seeds, I sow the seeds and wait for them to germinate, and then mulch after the new plants are about 3" tall. It depends on the time of the year---in early spring, I wait for the plants to get 3" tall because if I don't, the little pest insects hide in the mulch and gobble up the plants at night. In hotter weather, I mulch after the little sprouts are just an inch or two tall. Mainly that's because the ground gets too hot if I leave it bare for very long. You have to adapt your use of mulch to the weather conditions at the time.

I'd like to make a special note about corn. Right after corn seeds sprout, you have all these neat tidy rows of little green sprouts shining like a beacon of light in the rich, brown, loamy soil. So, what is the problem with that? Crows. Crows love corn. Crows will pull up your freshly sprouted corn plants so they can devour whatever is left of the corn seed. To get around that, after I sow corn seed in the ground, I immediately add about a half-inch to one inch of grass clippings. The green sprouts in the grass clippings (whether they are fresh green clippings or older straw-colored ones) blend in and merely look like young grass sprouting in a lawn of old grass (the mulch). Since I began mulching my corn beds at planting time with a thin layer of grass clippings, I no longer have to deal with crows pulling up corn plants.

A note about freshly-sprouted bean plants and mulch: in my garden which tends to have heavy mulch most of the year, we have tons of pill bugs and sow bugs. They live in the soil, in the mulch, etc. and congregate alongside the wood boards that frame all my raised beds. While the pill bugs and sow bugs actually are decomposers who help break down organic matter like your mulch, they also will devour freshly sprouted bean plants like crazy in mid-spring. So, I do not mulch the bean plants until they are several inches tall. If I mulch them too soon, the pill bugs and sow bugs attracted to the mulch will devour the bean plants with days of them sprouting. Once the bean spouts are larger and taller, they are less appealing to the pill bugs and sow bugs. So, while mulch in general is wonderful and highly recommended, there also are some drawbacks to using the various kinds of mulch. In my specific location with my soil and my pests, the biggest drawback to mulching is the pill bugs and sow bugs. I also use Escar-Go! or Sluggo/Sluggo Plus in wet years to help control them. In hot, dry years, there usually is not enough moisture for the pill bug and sow bug population to get large enough to do much damage.
I also prefer grass clippings, hay or straw over wood mulch in my veggie garden beds because the snakes that scare me in my garden (rattlesnakes and copperheads, although the sight of non-venomous snakes in the garden doesn't thrill me either) blend in too well with wood mulches in general. Because the grass clippings turn the same color as hay or straw, it is easier to find the snakes before they find me.

I hope this helps. Mulch is always good, but it is even better when you can tailor it specifically to whatever needs you have and can manage it in a way that you get the benefits of having it, but without the accompanying pests that might come in with it. I have noticed that scorpions also like to reside in the bark mulch, so I am really cautious about touching bark mulch with a hand, even a gloved hand...I use a trowel or some other tool instead.


    Bookmark   February 8, 2014 at 1:15PM
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Wow!! Thank you SO much for the responses! I'm going to read through them very carefully again and take down some notes. The area I want to make the new garden is not prepped...right now it's just lawn (really, just weeds...I don't think we have much grass.) My husband said he might be able to build me some raised beds there so that we don't have to do as much weeding. I will read these responses again and respond later with more info and some pics. Thank you all!

    Bookmark   February 17, 2014 at 10:18AM
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I got lucky and managed to get one of the crews that was clearing around the power lines to dump about 7 or 8 loads of wood chips close to my main garden. The plan right now is to use them for soil amendment on some of the areas where I have red clay. The rest will be used to mulch the rest of the garden once I get my watering system back in place and the soil warms up.
I've been using weed barrier fabric in my tomato rows for a couple of years, but it's a pain when it comes time to work the soil for the new year. Tried the biodegradable 'paper' barrier in a few areas last year. Won't make that mistake again.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 10:56AM
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I planted a living mulch last year...golden oregano. It worked well and I can use it in cooking.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 12:00AM
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I live in the northeast part of the State with more rainfall. I haven't noticed a problem with sow bugs and pill bugs eating my small bean plants, but one year I planted bush beans that produced lower on the plants. Many of the beans touched the ground and there would be half a bean left after the pill bugs finished with it. I only plant bush beans one time in the Spring to get the earliest beans, but I will be careful to buy Top Crop or something that makes it's crop near the top of the plant. Except for that first crop, I just plant pole beans.

I tried straw as mulch one year and had the worst insect problem that I have ever had. It stayed moist and everything seemed to thrive there.

I mostly use cardboard and leaves and even when they are not chopped the leaves don't move much once they are in place and get wet. Down where Dawn lives everything dries out, but in my garden it tends to stay fairly moist until well into the summer, and then only if the rains stop.

My biggest problem is grass, the never ending battle.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 4:40PM
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I lucked into a pickup load of leaves last fall, from a landscaping crew.

Is it best to till those leaves into my garden soil , or use them in the compost pile, or grind them up and use them for mulch ?

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 7:03PM
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I've worried about using lawn clippings and leaves from my yard because I have a service that treats my yard with chemicals. Any input?

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 11:23PM
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Hi! Yes. Yes and yes. Your greatest benefit to soil from leaves comes in the form of leaf mold requiring long-term cool composting. However, leaves don't mind where they are placed to form this mold. The requirement is:

1) Adequate moisture the same as a regular compost pile. Don't let them dry completely out to keep the fungi fueled.

2) Air. Unlike hot composting, their requirement for air isn't quite as needy, but the fungi does need some air circulation going on. For lawn bag leaf molding, it is recommended to poke holes in the bag with a garden fork. About that much is sufficient.

2) Adequate density. Pile them on. Shred them, if you like, or leave them whole. I shred using Dawn's suggestion of inserting into a large trash bucket and inserting a live string-lined weed eater. I get mold starting in a few weeks. Even if you use them as mulch an din whole form, make sure to pile them thick even if you're want to cover all your garden. Find something else in the areas where you might not have enough leaf to cover. I think you will based on what you describe, but that leaf mold is a vital nutrient. It's worth hogging the pile-up so the goody mold can happen. If you "till it in" dig a hole and place a small pile of leaves before covering with dirt. It makes a mini leaf mold pile right under the surface. It would be a tedious job, but you could effectively create pockets of leaf mold throughout your garden beds.

3) Leave it alone. Unlike regular compost, turning isn't necessary. Of course, even if you use as mulch and naturally must move it aside or relocate it, it's cool. The fungi is still there, but you probably relocated their dinner plates and it will take a while for them to set up their dinner table again and begin molding fast. It just slows things down when you move it. The exception to this is if you want to bother to learn how mold is grown and can encourage its growth biologically. I have no idea. I would imagine it's possible since we can manipulate the other forms of bacteria and buggies in compost piles to our benefit. I know that a nice greyish mold shows up later on my shredded leaf pile meaning it's molding well. And when I move it, that mold changes or starts to go away until the pile has sat at rest for a longer period of time.

It's great stuff and I'm grateful to have leaves from last fall after three years' missing in action. Be careful which tree leaves are used.


That is a legitimate concern. Nature has solutions for these, if you're patient and are in the process to be patient. Some neighbors are not. Proper long-term hot composting is a cure If you're interesting in learning the ins and outs of how compost can destroy chemicals and industrial by-products I recommend The Humanure Handbook. Look carefully and you can find an online .pdf to read, for free, in a short period of time. I don't recommend it for the humanure so much as I recommend reading it for Mr. Jenkins' knowledge in composting. There he explains examples including the details how to perform proper composting chemicals and industrial by-products. It's not much different than you already know but he reinforced and encourages our involvement in that process. His method is easier, actually. I don't recall the details, but a one year period of (proper) hot composting was required followed by an additional year allowing the compost to rest will work magic on those contaminated greens and browns. He starts out with a long lecture on global warming or climate change. You can skim through that to get to the vital parts of the book. His handling of humanure is important to describe proper compost ingredients, though. I do not use humanure, but found the book invaluable.

If you're lazy, like me (or, really, don't have adequate nitrogen). Pile it in an obscure location and leave it for a good three or four years (maybe longer). As Mr. Jenkins describes his experiences and quotes tested examples, life's biology heals itself quite well when you encourage its naturally process or leave it alone for the time it needs. He recommends we trust it. I'm inclined to agree.


This post was edited by ChickenCoupe on Tue, Mar 11, 14 at 2:18

    Bookmark   March 11, 2014 at 1:57AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

LCDollar, If you leave the leaves whole and rototill them into the soil, they will be very slow to breakdown. It is likely that in the fall, the same leaves you rototill into the soil now still will be whole and complete. It can take whole, complete leaves well over a year to decompose. You can grind them up (I run over them with a lawn mower and the grass catcher picks up most of the little pieces for me, but you also can put them in a trash can and stick your string-trimmer into the trash can and chop them up that way) and then either use them as mulch or put them in the compost pile. Either way, they are really great for the soil. (Except for black walnut leaves which have alleopathic tendencies and should be avoided in the garden and compost pile.)

We have about 10 acres of woodland. If I were to walk in there now to an area where the leaves were undisturbed, the topmost leaves from last fall would be largely intact. The next layer of leaves underneath them, which would be from the fall of 2012, would be partially decomposed, and the leaves beneath those would be nothing but leaf mold. In our early years here when I was trying to turn compacted, dense, red clay into good garden soil, I'd spend a part of every winter going into the woodland and gathering up leaves to rototill into our garden soil. I was careful not to take the leaves/leaf mold from the same area too often---maybe once every 3 or 4 years---because I didn't want to permanently deny the plants in that part of the woodland the good nutrition they get from the leaf mold. I hauled all that leaf mold to the garden (I had raked the top, intact leaves off the top of the area where I was gathering leaf mold and left them in the woodland) and rototilled it into the soil.

Another way to use the leaves is to put them on the compost pile, chopped up or shredded. Then add a layer of grass clippings, then follow with alternating layers of more leaves, more grass clippings and spent/discarded plants and prunings as well as kitchen waste. You'll have beautiful compost in a year even if you don't turn the pile. (I rarely turn a compost pile because I have too many snakes, many of them venomous, and they love hanging out around the compost piles.) Chopped and shredded leaves make the most wonderful compost, but they also make great mulch and they will decompose in place right there on top of the planting beds. I use leaves both as mulch and as a compost pile amendment. Use them in whichever way you choose. As long as you avoid black walnut leaves, the leaves are nothing but good for the garden.

Nowyousedum, If your grass clippings are chemically treated, it would be better to not put them in a garden where you are growing edible crops. It depends, however, on what chemicals are used. There are some herbicides in use that are meant to kill broadleaf weeds in grassy areas, including pastures, golf courses and city parks where a lovely carpet of lawn uninterrupted by broadleaf weeds is desired. The problem is that some of those types of herbicides have been found to persist in compost, cattle manure and hay/straw to the point that they contaminate the garden soil with enough herbicide residue that garden plants grow poorly or die. Several times, compost and manure have made it into the commercial soil-additive industry and people have had almost their entire garden die because of the herbicide residues. To read more on that topic, just Google the term "killer compost". Mother Earth News and Organic Gardening magazines both have written articles on the topic. It is a specific type of herbicide that has this persistent effect, and the problem has existed since the very early 2000s.

We do not use any chemicals on our lawn, so I can use the grass clippings as mulch or as a compost pile ingredient with no fear that it will harm the plants. When you use chemicals, you have to be a little more careful with how you use the clippings.


    Bookmark   March 11, 2014 at 8:29AM
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