Even though it ended with me completely drenched from the rain, I am thrilled to have deep-bed mulched almost all of my section of the back garden this afternoon. It was a lot of work, because I waited too late in the season to do it (which meant having to mow or pull the weeds I’d allowed to get out of control). And, to be honest, I was slightly tempted to mow the whole thing and just till it under. BUT, it took me two years to convince Dave to leave a section of dirt for me to try my “hippie” approach for enriching the soil, reducing weeds and retaining moisture. We’ve had remarkable success in this test area in the two years since I started it, but Farmer Dave is still reluctant to let go of time on the tractor for the rest of our garden space…and I completely understand. I like driving our old John Deere 2010, too!
Today, I basically unrolled a huge round bale of hay that has been decaying at the edge of our woods for a number of years. I then spread the rotting hay over the area that I had just mowed. In some areas, I put down sections of newspapers under the hay, too, providing an additional barrier against the thistles that I’d allowed to establish.
In the past, I’ve mulched with grass clippings, soiled hay from our chicken coop and truckloads of dead leaves. It’s a lot of work on the day we mulch it, but the energy it takes to maintain is almost nothing for the majority of the growing season. Our plants stay moist in dry weather and don’t become overrun with weeds when the rains hang on.
For most of the rest of our gardens, I mulch in between rows after planting as opposed to covering the entire space each year. This is still greatly beneficial, but driving that heavy tractor over it at the beginning and end of every season seems to undo some of the weed barrier and soil aeration that the deep bed mulching allows.
I ran out of hay before I could totally finish, but I know that, with all of the rain we’ve had, there will be plenty of grass clippings this week to fill in the gap. It really feels good to have such a big job done!