Author Topic: Garden / Mulch advice  (Read 703 times)

Offline 11 Bravo

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Garden / Mulch advice
« on: December 03, 2012, 11:02:40 AM »


I have a veggie garden where I live in the middle of the woods here in Michigan. The primary trees around me are 90% white pine, and some oak mixed in. My veggie garden up until 2 years ago was a very large flower garden with in ground sprinkling and a koi pond.  I got rid of the flowers and the pond starting late in 2011, and this past summer was the first shot at a large veggie garden. The soil here is very sandy, and under part of this garden is my drain field. About 8 or 9 years ago, when it was a flower garden, I brought in a bunch of soil from a cattle farm and mixed it in between seasons. Also, soil from the chicken house is rotated into the garden area yearly. This first year was very successful. Hopefully I've given enough info for some advice.

In the Fall 2011, I prepped the area to go from flowers to veggies, I nuked the area with RoundUp, and cut it all down and tilled it a week or two after that. This past summer, I was constantly fighting the flowers and the woods from trying to take back the new veggie garden. A few weeks ago, Jack talked about using layers of newspaper, cardboard, and mulch to help with this. I don't remember if there was an order to doing this or not ?  And should I do this now, before the snow arrives, or Spring 2013 ?  Or just do the papers, cardboard now, and wait to put down the mulch in the spring? I have a large pile of mulch that was dropped by the local tree trimming company that was clearing the power lines down the road......Or anybody got some alternative ideas ?  Thanks !!



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Offline MaddoginMass

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Re: Garden / Mulch advice
« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2012, 01:02:39 PM »
I would put down the cardboard and newspaper first.  You don't need to put down both, one or the other is fine, and then put down the mulch.  If possible, I would do it now so it will help prevent sprouting in the fall.

Another alternative, which I did last year and it worked out well, is to cover the area with black plastic.  I will kill off whatever is underneath and also allow you to plant earlier by warming the ground quicker in the Spring. 

Offline Frugal Upstate

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Re: Garden / Mulch advice
« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2012, 02:04:04 PM »
I'd recommend using the newspaper-5 layers or so thick, wet down-over cardboard if you want to be able to dig through it to plant. 

This year I mulched with paper & wood chips on one garden, paper and hay on another, just hay on the third garden with one row where I experimented with grass clippings.  I wrote a blog post on the whole mulching experience with pictures--I can put the link here if you like.
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Offline Terroir

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Re: Garden / Mulch advice
« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2012, 08:17:30 PM »
Quote
I nuked the area with RoundUp, and cut it all down and tilled it a week or two after that.

Oh, boy... I hope you have since thrown the Roundup away! It is some seriously nasty stuff, not only to the weeds you want to get rid of, but to every other form of plant life, along with being deadly to all beneficial soil microbiology. Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, also travels up the food chain, much like DDT. It has now been positively linked with a lot of "chronic" diseases and ailments that we have seen a huge increase in over the past 40- 50 years. I did a presentation for the local non-GMO folks about it. You can see it here - http://vimeo.com/51499285.

The good news is that it will be bound up or inactivated by the minerals in the soil, if you haven't used a lot of it for a long time. Working to keep the mineral content at optimum levels and actively boosting the microbial life in your soil will keep it inactivated, and the microbes will eventually be able to decompose it, over a period of a couple of years.

If you need more info on building the soil fertility, let me know and I can point you in some directions!
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Offline Bonnieblue2A

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Re: Garden / Mulch advice
« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2012, 08:32:43 PM »
Basically the newspaper or cardboard is to smother out any grass or weeds you may have. If you have the mulch you want to do this before the snow (a.k.a. ASAP) if you are able. That way, all winter, the mulch and your base layer of newspaper or cardboard are busy breaking down and adding organic matter to the soil below.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGZ1Wy0WES0

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Offline 11 Bravo

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Re: Garden / Mulch advice
« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2012, 05:57:48 AM »
Terroir, I'll check the video and do some searching for alternatives for garden and lawn weed control. The RoundUp was a once use kind of thing, just the initial shot to kill off what was in the area that the veggie garden would be. The garden is the "donut hole" of the driveway, and I didn't kill off everything. The flower garden is still the outer ring of the hole.

The harvest this past summer was excellent, but it was a test year to figure out what grew best , and where. Some area are shadier than others, and some of the plots are sandier than others. It's the weeds and forest that is the battle, the forest wants to keep creeping back in to the garden area, yard, and the separate north garden where my potatoes are grown.

I'll get going today with the paper and mulch, looks like winter is still on hold for the next week or so.
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Offline Terroir

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Re: Garden / Mulch advice
« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2012, 09:55:12 AM »
It sounds like you didn't over-do it, which is a good thing. A one-time use can be dealt with much easier and with much less impact than if it was a twice yearly habit for the past 10 years!

Alternatives abound for weed control. One of the most effective is a spot flamer - Weed Dragon. You don't burn the weeds crispy critters, just saute them a bit and move on. They die within a day, and there is no resistance to a 2,000F flame! Hot vinegar and boiling water also work well. Weeds are pioneer species and also indicator species, bringing up minerals and nutrients that are missing at the surface. There is a great reference book that we use to identify needed amendments to the soil based on what weed populations are present. As accurate as a soil test and faster as well - do a weed species census, then cross reference them in the book and look for commonalities for missing nutrients. Once those nutrients are in place, that weed species disappears. There may be other weeds that show up, but in lesser populations and not as many species at once.
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Offline Pennridge

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Re: Garden / Mulch advice
« Reply #7 on: December 04, 2012, 11:41:42 AM »
What is the name of the reference book that you use to amend the soil?

Offline Terroir

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Re: Garden / Mulch advice
« Reply #8 on: December 04, 2012, 11:58:14 AM »
Pennridge, welcome to the rabbit hole! Come on in, take a look around, we'll show you how deep it goes!

The book is titled Weeds and Why They Grow, available from Acres USA, who has been on the forefront of biological farming for the past 40 years. The founding publisher, Charles Walters, saved Dr. William A. Albrecht's work and research on soil fertility by publishing his papers that had been languishing for years. Weeds and Why They Grow isn't sexy, it's a reference book to read the weeds and determine a pretty accurate course of action on increasing soil fertility. Don't be put off by it's plain Jane appearance!
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"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects." - Robert Heinlein

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