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  • Writer's pictureCrazy Jar Lady

Mulch It!

I'm terrible at weeding! In fact, I absolutely hate it and it can completely ruin the gardening experience for me. I've struggled with weeds in the garden since I started helping Dad at an early age. The more I research and see what folks are doing, I've been working on switching the entire garden over to an always-mulched no-till system. It goes by various names. I'm not using permanent mulch like plastic sheeting or weed fabric as I want the option to move things around. The natural mulch really helps keep moisture to the plants and also feeds the soil as it decomposes.

There's a combination of hay, straw and wood chips on the gardens now. I have both in ground row garden areas and raised beds. All are being treated the same. Pine chips are the primary mulch being added currently as that is the bedding I use for the chickens. There's the added benefit of chicken poop to feed the plants. I used quite a bit of the pine flakes last year that was full of chicken and bottle calf poop. The fresh poo did not burn the plants at all. I believe they really enjoyed the extra boost.

I'm no longer tilling up the in-ground planting areas. The difference between the soil last year after tilling and how it stands right now is astounding. The entire garden has changed color from deep brown to an earthy black and it just falls apart in your hand instead of being in clumps. This year, the plan is to plant some of the same crops in the same place to see how they respond. I've never not rotated crops before, Dad would be having a fit but still be intrigued by the experiment.

Due to the fox hanging around, my chickens are stuck inside their coop where they cannot become dinner for the jerk. Handsome has been helping me spread the soiled pine chips on the garden. I don't like to leave the chips in with the chickens for very long. Yeah, it costs a bit more than the "deep litter method" but it sure does smell better. The chickens really seem to enjoy the fresh chips to scratch in and the garden gets "free" mulch!

During the summer months, I will gather grass clippings with the lawn sweep. This will give added coverage for areas that are short on mulch after the spring planting. I especially like to use grass clippings on the flower beds. They weather to a gray color but don't blow away.

To plant, I just move the mulch out of the way of the spot I want to plant in. Same with rows, I just move the mulch over and then scratch the row into the soil. Then as the plants grow up, I move the mulch back around them. The weeds don't have as much lee-way to get started and I'm a happier gardener.

What new ideas are you implementing in your garden this year?

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