Mulching for Free

Mulching for Free

I’m sure that if you are reading this, you have used some form of mulch during your gardening career. However, you probably didn’t know that there are many other options for organic mulching that you can explore. These days, many gardeners are discovering new sources of free mulch that has been there all along; an untapped resource. These include clippings from a lawn, or woody prunings from other plants in your yard. You will be surprised by how beneficial all these things can be, and how often the opportunity arises to use them.

Many gardeners have taken to spreading out their excess grass clippings across the rest of their yard. You may think this will look tacky, with big piles of grass just sitting in your yard as if you were too lazy to rake them up. However, if you spread them out enough then you won’t even be able to tell that there is an excess amount. Leaving the extra grass on the yard acts as a sort of mulch by preventing evaporation and weed growth. With this extra water, you won’t have to water nearly as much to keep your grass green. When I started leaving my grass clippings, I had to adjust the frequency of my sprinkler system because I was worried my yard was getting too much water!

If your garden is in more need of mulching than your yard, it is not unheard of to rake up all the grass and transport it to your garden. By making a small layer around the vicinity of the plant, you’ll apply all the same benefits from leaving it in your yard. My yard is rather green on its own, but I often have trouble with my plants staying green and healthy. So, rather than leave the grass clipping in my yard, I move them all around my plants. It is just a matter of choosing what your highest mulching priority is.

Sometimes, our pruning activities will lead us to have an amazing amount of branches and twigs. If this is the case, you should consider renting a wood chipper to put all of those branches to use. After one day of intense pruning, you would be surprised at just how many branches you end up with. Rather than throw these away, you can turn them into a huge amount of mulch for your plants. However, if your pruning has not left you with that big of an amount, you should bundle it all up and save it to add onto the next batch. This is because the chipping machines can be slightly expensive to rent, and you want it to be absolutely worth it!

Over time, all organic mulches need to be replenished. This is because they will naturally decompose in the conditions of your yard. Usually you can tell for yourself just by looking at it, but sometimes it can look perfectly regular but still have problems. If you start to notice any poor plant growth whatsoever, you should replace your mulch. Always keep in mind that during the process of decomposition, your mulch will use up the valuable nitrogen in the soil. Without this, the plants will be missing a key nutrient. There are several types of fertilizers available on the market that are specifically designed to deal with this problem.

The use of mulches in the yard and garden is something everyone should try. Not only can it save lots of time by reducing the amount of garbage you have to transport out, but it increases the healthiness and integrity of your plants by putting that so called garbage to good use. So if you think you would be able to save a good amount of branches and twigs for chipping, or if you think that you are ready to stop raking up all your grass clippings, then I think that mulching is for you.

Maintaining a Compost Heap

Maintaining a Compost Heap

Many people who maintain gardens have a large amount of organic waste, from grass clippings to leaves and dead plants. Unfortunately, many waste money and time having these wastes transported to a landfill. It isn’t just a waste of good compost; it’s a waste of everything that goes into the process of transporting it (the garbage man’s time, the money you pay for the removal, etc). It is truly a travesty.

All this garbage that people are trying to get rid of can be a better supplement for your garden than any fertilizer or chemical. If you properly facilitate the decomposition of all of the garbage, it will alter chemically until it is in such a state that it can be nothing but beneficial nutrition for other plants. Therefore you can turn all the stuff you would have thrown away into top grade fertilizer for your garden.

Usually compost is maintained in a pile somewhere in your backyard. Usually the thought of a compost heap brings disturbing images to ones mind; heaps of rotten garbage emitting a horrid odor. However, if you maintain it correctly you’ll be able to produce great compost without producing an offensive odor. When I first began my compost pile in an effort to improve environmental health, I made several major errors. These included preventing the pile from the oxygen it truly needed, and keeping it to dry. It ended up decomposing in a very non-beneficial way, and producing an odor so foul that I had government agents knocking at my door.

When you are choosing your spot where you will be putting all of these materials, you should aim for a higher square footage. Having a really deep pile of compost is not a good idea, because generally the deeper sections won’t be exposed to anything that is required for the process to work. It is better to spread it all out over a large area. If you have a shed or a tool shack of some sort, it is a possibility to spread it over the roof (with boards to keep it from falling off, of course). I have seen this done several times, and it helps keep the pile out of the way while still maintaining a large square footage.

A compost heap can consist of any organic garbage from your yard, garden or kitchen. This includes leaves, grass, any leftover food that won’t be eaten, or newspaper (no more than a fifth of your pile should consist of newspaper, due to it having a harder time composting with the rest of the materials). Usually if you have a barrel devoted to storing all of these things, it will fill up within several weeks. It is quite easy to obtain compost, but the hard part truly comes in getting it to compost.

After you have begun to get a large assortment of materials in your compost heap, you should moisten the whole pile. This encourages the process of composting. Also chop every element of the pile into the smallest pieces possible. As the materials start to compress and meld together as they decompose, frequently head outside and aerate the pile. You can use a shovel to mix it all up, or an aeration tool to poke dozens of tiny holes into it. Doing this will increase the oxygen flow to each part of the pile, and oxygen is required for any decomposition to take place.

If maintaining a compost pile sounds like something that would interest you, start considering the different placement options. The hardest part about maintaining a pile is choosing a spot that provides enough square footage without intruding on the rest of your yard or garden. While usually you can prevent the horrible odors that most people associate with compost heaps, it’s still not a pleasant thing to have to look at whenever you go for a walk in your garden.