Podcast Episode 47 - Defining Permaculture

047 : Defining Permaculture

Growing Degree Days: A Better Way to Understand your Growing Conditions

049 : Growing Degree Days: A Better Way to...

October 7, 2017 Comments (6) General Gardening, Podcast

048 : Mulling over Mulches

In this episode we talked about mulches and explored the question of which mulches are best suited to gardening in the North.

Order, first to last:

Which break down the fastest?

Hay
Seaweed
Grass
Leaves
Rotten logs
Woodchips

Which improve soil the most rapidly?

Hay
Seaweed
Grass
Leaves
Rotten logs
Woodchips

Which generate the most heat in the spring?

Seaweed
Hay
Grass
Leaves
Rotten logs
Woodchips

Summary: If your soil is really good, use anything. If your soil needs to be improved rapidly, go with hay or seaweed!

6 Responses to 048 : Mulling over Mulches

  1. Matt says:

    Hi guys,

    Great podcast. I look forward to the new episodes all the time.

    Question about mulches:

    I used straw this year. It worked fantastic around my transplants, but it was a pain when I direct seeded. Take carrots, for example. Do you seed a line of carrots, then mulch right over? Or leave a bare strip? Or mulch only after they sprout?

    Also, if you could only pick one material to mulch with, would it be seaweed? If I were to use seaweed, should I let it dry out and mulch it up with a lawnmower first, or just slap it right on the soil?

    Any help is much appreciated.

    Thanks for the podcast!

    • Greg Auton says:

      HI Matt: with carrots, you either leave it bare, or put a very fine layer (1/2″) of shredded up straw over the row. I am finding this latter technique to be really good because it help hold moisture a little better. Be patient with carrots. Just because the pack says you can sow in Apr, doesn’t mean they will germinate in April. If you watch my youtube vid where I talk about dealing with weeds (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YtNoae-8oEs), you’ll note it’s the end of May, and the carrots, which had been in the ground for 2 months, were barely 2″ high! Not sure where you are located, but if your April is cold, the seeds will remain viable in the ground, but they will take their sweet time germinating. Regarding the ideal mulch, I’ve been very pleased with seaweed, but have not grown everything in it yet, so I can’t say for sure that it’s the best thing out there. I live 2 minutes from a stable, so I use hay because I can source it using the least amount of time and gas. If I lived right on the ocean, I think I’d use seaweed everywhere 🙂 Regarding application, if you are doing it in the fall, just harvest above the high tide line, and throw it on your garden bed – that’s all I did! 🙂 Here’s a vid of me doing
      that: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ytXfp03VT80&t=2s

      • Tanja says:

        I have a friend that makes a trench in the mulch, fills it with soil and sow. It prevents the straw from falling back over and covering the light ect. Then she just puts more mulch when they have grown bigger.

        • greg says:

          Hi Tanja: I basically do the same thing sometimes as well. I’ve done this, as well as a light layer of mulch over the seeds. Both seem to work, but I think the mulch trick may be the easier of the two from a moisture retention point of view. Anyway, plenty of experiments to do next season for sure! Thanks for commenting! -g.a.

  2. Mary Baker says:

    Patrick Dolan (believe that is his name) who you have previously referenced about sun chokes is able to plant in his woodchip walkways with good results, maybe because they have been down for some years. I saw the Back to Eden film as well and was excited about the prospects but haven’t been able to get any for my garden yet. Still hope to one day.
    Really helpful content and great to have it applicable to our maritime area.

    • Greg Auton says:

      Yes, it takes time. Not sure if I mentioned this in the podcast but I’ve been planting beans in the walkways for a number of year, and this (year 4 I think) is the first time I got a reasonable yield. I also planed some lettuce this year – they looked pretty sad :). Woodchips take time, at least in the North. Also, while Patrick is in zone five, he lives in Chicago (I think), which is way hotter than where I am, despite the fact that I’m in zone 5. The point is, his chips probably break down a lot faster during the growing season than do mine. Good observation, OYR is a great youtube channel! Re: sourcing woodchips, sometimes you have to be very persistent and call (and recall) practically every tree service in your area and really sweet talk them into dumping them on your property. After watching the BTE I thought it would be a piece of cake to get woodchips, but it was not for me because I live outside of the city centre. I have to pay $50 for my guy to dump them in my driveway – still a good deal because I usually get at least 6 cubic yards for that. Anyway hope that helps, thanks for listening to the show!

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