Monday, June 16, 2014

Self sustaining garden, producing my own mulch.

As you know I am continually looking for ways to garden in a way that is self sustaining.  I "grow" my own fertilizer with comfrey, worm castings and prawns shells.   Sugar can mulch is something I have been buying for the veggies, and with all this wet weather it rots down so quickly I have been looking around for an alternative mulch solution. I called the local hay guy (whch is cheaper) and he said it is too wet to cut his hay. Some gardeners have talked about using shredded office paper.   I dont have a shredder, but tear paper into thing strips occasionally  to add to the compost.  In clumbs it can mat up and would stop water getting to the soil under it.  When adding it to the compost I always make sure I mix it in well with the leaves etc already composting down..  So I tried the same idea in the garden.
My tumbling composter is full of red wriggler worms and I think regular eathworms.  I am not sure how they got in there, but I am sure they are speeding up the whole process. It also seems quite wet, so I dragged some out, and picked out the bigger bits like banana peels and threw them back into the compsot.  So there is a mixture of shredded paper, composted leaves and worms.  I also mixed in a  few freshly mulched leaves for good measure.


We are still getting quite a bit of rain and the little pattypan squash plants and the franzipani all have some sort of fungus on their leaves.  The apple cucumber looked a bit dirty too after the fence was pressure washed, but there are a couple of little fruit forming..


We had one day of sunshine over the weekend and everything seemed to come to life just in that one day.
 I put some comfrey into a sprayer and added a bit of bicarb and espom salts.  If the sun comes out I want these plants to be healthy and happy and ready to produce some food for the table.  I want to keep that moisture in the soil too when it does stop raining for a while.  The rest of the garden just has all all the cuttings dropped onto the ground and that eventually rots down. What do you use for mulch in your veggie patch?  

16 comments:

  1. Your composting efforts are certainly paying off.
    I give my plants epsom salts fertilizer every once in a while, especially the palms.
    We are still experiencing the worst drought in years....can you please send me some of your rain?

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    Replies
    1. Virginia,
      They say that our soils here in Australia are deplete in a lot of the minerals, especially here where we get lots of rain. I noticed that my golden candles started flowering suddenly so that is what they must have needed!

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  2. Mulching is about the best thing you can do for your garden. I use hay, straw, plants that I have taken out from the garden and put through the chipper ... prunnings, azolla (weed from pond) just about anything I can get my mitts on. I heard of a gardener who never put anything but mulch on his garden and grew his soil that way. Ah, those worms love it! :)

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    Replies
    1. Frog,
      I often think I would like a shredder, because when I cut the larger plants and drop the cuttings they look messy rather than mulchy. I remember that video! That was mostly wood chips, I would have thought that sticking with one kind of mulch would sway the ph though. He had awesome success.

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  3. I use bought sugar cane mulch, compost from my bins and prunings that have been through the chipper, but I am a bit lazy about doing it regularly, and the gardens get down to bare soil quite often, which isn't ideal. worms seem to love paper, for some reason. When I put shredded paper in the worm farm, the population explodes.

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    Replies
    1. Lyn,
      I know the worms love paper in the worm farm and compost. It is amazing how fast mulch decomposes especially in this climate.

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  4. We use locally produced pea straw. It works really well and often gives a bonus pea plant to enjoy.

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    Replies
    1. Oh now that is different. Free pea plants sound great.

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  5. Mulching is essential. I love how you sorted through and returned the chunky bits to the bin to keep composting. We use straw, shredded paper and sugar cane mulch and it really helps to keep the soil beds moist :D

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    Replies
    1. Merryn,
      well I thought it might look tacky with banana peel poking out of the mulch :) Sounds as though more people use shredded paper than I thought.

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  6. I often just put down layers of newspaper as mulch. I cover it with soil and it does a good job of keeping the weeds down. In a couple of seasons, it breaks down. In perennial beds, I might make the layer thick (10 sheets) to be more permanent, and in a veggie bed I might just put a couple of layers that will do for the summer.

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    Replies
    1. Jenny,
      I have done that when preparing a bed, but here there are small areas between the veggies, so I needed something finer. Mulch is so important isn't it?

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  7. you've been exceedingly busy. pressure cleaning the fences; i'm really impressed.
    i use the big packets of sugar cane mulch for my vegie garden - it's easy for me to handle. it does need to be replaced a few times over the summer, as it breaks down (as you note) and plus the blackbirds scruff it about!
    i've actually just scraped back all the mulch from my vegie garden as it hibernates for the winter - to let any sun and moisture into the soil, and to feed it up over the colder moinths, ready for spring.
    wonderful to see everythign that is still happening in northern gardens :-)

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  8. e, Yes the garden looks so nice now after the pressure washing, that is why I had to get a handle on the weeds.... I normally cover the soil during the fallow season, otherwise it gets over run with weeds. If it would ever stop raining up here it would be nice....

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  9. I tend to use, the straw from rabbit hutches as it's rotten down and mixed with nutritious bunny poo, seems to work well.

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  10. How I wish for my garden to look as healthy as yours.

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