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Posted by Brett-CpG 7b/8a (My Page) on
Fri, May 16, 14 at 13:24

I've done a good bit of searching and reading already, but I'm running out of ideas/time.

I've got a nice, big 600 sq ft vegetable garden and I need to put down some mulch. Ive got 10 inches of solid red clay that I tilled some (i.e. completely inadequate amount) compost into recently, and got plants in the ground. Everything looks great, seedlings are up, transplants all took well, but I'm starting to see weeds popping up, too.

Here's the tricky part. I want to keep the weeds down, but I also want to spread out and till in the mulch at the end of the year to help amend and loosen the soil. What type of mulch (pine, hardwood, cyprus, pine needles, hay, etc) is going to be the best for my soil if I do this?

Thanks in advance for any replies.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Mulching

We used dry grass clippings from our yard. It's free. I don't know if it's the best or not, but it keeps the weeds down well if you mulch it about 3 inches thick. When it gets wet it shrinks to about 2 inches.

RE: Mulching

Lowes sells what they call a "soil conditioner",(Evergreen) which is simply pine bark fines. I have used it to mulch my vegetable garden, although my garden is much smaller than yours. It is very effective for keeping weeds down, and also protecting vegetables from soil splashing onto the plants. It doesn't wash away in heavy rains. I mention this because it is relatively inexpensive, and pine bark fines are typically used to help improve soil drainage. You could till it under at end of season and it should actually help improve your clay soil. I'm no vegetable gardening expert, but I have used this product for both mulching and to improve the soil and found it worked.

RE: Mulching

I use layers of newspaper or cardboard such as opened out cereal boxes covered with wheat straw. No weeds and no problem tilling next time.

RE: Mulching

Can you just open up & lay out the newspaper right over top of the garden soil? Don't have to shred it or anything? I have tomato plants and some herbs in two small raised-beds. I incorporated emu manure for the tomato plant areas.

Also, as the newspaper decays, can you add egg shells and coffee & natural filters to it? Seems it would take a long time for this stuff to decay.

RE: Mulching

Yes to the egg shells, coffee, and filters being added to your soil. In fact, you can actually direct deposit these and they will be integrated into your soil within 2 weeks. Banana peels (cut into smaller pieces) are great, too.

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