22 June 2008

Much Mulching in the Barnyard

The time spent hoeing and hand-weeding the vegetable plots was beginning to get to me. I'd read about using mulches to suppress weeds and conserve moisture in Thalassa Cruso's wonderful book, Making Vegetables Grow, which was the first book about gardening in North America that I read, back in the winter. The technique is also being used at the farm north of Toronto that is described in the Tiny Farm Blog, which I started to follow recently. I liked the idea but wasn't sure that I'd have enough mulching material to make it work. Then Mike got a grass-collecting attachment to pull along behind the tractor and all the pieces were in place.

I only had to wait for suitable weather conditions: a decent soaking of rain so that the soil was wet when I put the mulch down. It has been very dry here this month: although much of eastern Canada has seen significant rainfall in the form of thunderstorms, our small corner has been its usual droughty self. We've had only 0.66 inches/18.8mm of rain in June so far.

Cauliflower and broccoli bed with grass mulch
Last night we got an hour of steady rain which at last provided a suitable mulching milieu. The morning was cloudy and coolish: perfect for working outside. I emptied out our first ever load of compost from one of the bins while Mike rounded up the grass clippings and delivered them to the vegetable garden. The compost went around the Amish Paste tomatoes and was topped off with a layer of grass, which was also spread around the peppers, aubergines/eggplants and Riesentraube tomatoes in the same bed. Then I went on to mulch the two brassica beds with grass as well. It was quite time-consuming work and the backs of my thighs are protesting somewhat, but I hope it will save more effort (and maybe water) in the weeks to come.

I don't remember reading much about mulching vegetables like this in the UK (with the exception of straw around strawberries), but then I suspect that the mulch would make a great breeding ground for slugs and snails in a wetter climate than this one, so maybe it wouldn't be such a good scheme over there.


Aunt Debbi/kurts mom said...

Mulch helps us here so much with water and weeds. Good luck to you

Amy said...

I'm certain that once you've started mulching, you'll fall in love :) I suspect that in your old home, where the precipitation is plentiful, mulching is pretty unnecessary and could cause more problems than it would solve. It really is a hard job getting it all down though. I can sympathise with the aching leg muscles!