i need help with what to use for mulch in my veggie gardens. i tried grass clippings and they dried up solid and hard and the water didn't penetrate well. off it came.
what can i use? i have lettuce, celery, summer squash, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, red cabbage, collard greens, herbs, carrots, turnip, a few onions and kohlrabi (just seeds so far). do some thing help keep away the "bad" bugs more than others? last year i had a big problem with some really ugly fat green worms on my cabbage plants. yuckers. :)
Debbie, for my garden, I use mainly straw. I can get it cheap/free (if you have a Home Depot or other place that sells straw, you'll probably find they'll let you have all the loose stuff for free - that's what I do.) I try to keep a nice 3-6" fluffy layer on everything. It really does seem to help do several important things for my garden:
1. Keeps weeds down (any weeds that pop up get yanked out and tossed on top, where they dry out and become mulch themselves;
2. Keeps the soil moist; and
3. Keeps the top layer of soil from getting dry and hard (we have extremely heavy clay soil, so this one is really important.)
Compost makes a nice mulch, if you have it available. As do shredded leaves, even shredded newspaper, or just about any combination of these items. I would guess if you could get any of these, and mix them in with your grass clippings, it would keep them from matting together and getting so hard and water-repellant.
I use straw, it works just like go-vols said and the best thing is that at the end of summer you can put it into the compost pile. This year I've put rabbit "poop" under it and the veggies are loving it.
I use grass clippings. The matting down doesn't matter in the vegie beds because the drip line is on top of the soil but under the grass. It does matter in the herbs tho. For them I sort spread out the grass with a rake for about 24hrs rather than putting it down fresh. It begins to dry a bit and doesn't mat. I'm sure G-V's idea of mixing it with something would work well also. the grass clippings are free (that's why I had to figure a way to make it work)
I use composted cow manure ~ mulch and fertilizer in one. I put it down atleast an inch thick. Works pretty well for me, but I'm sure not as well as 4 inches of straw. I have been thinking of trying alfalfa hay on top of the manure. If it's very wet where you are, I wouldn't as I've talked to someone who lives in Oregon and he said it turns to an icky, gooey mess in all the moisture. But another Texan said it does well for him.
I use fresh-cut alfalfa as a mulch around my roses, and have never had a problem with it turning gooey, but I live in a drier climate (Ohio). I use it chopped into pieces about 3" long, leaves and stems mixed, and put about 2" on top once a month.
Cabbage worms (and moths) dislike the smell of mint, so I use pennyroyal in the paths in my veggie garden; it really makes a difference. I cut it and throw the pieces on the ground around my brassicas once a week and mostly the adults stay far away: no caterpillars (or hardly any).
thanks everyone, good advice. do you get rid of the hay at the end of the season, or leave it and till it in the next year? i have Very rocky and gravelly soil and i need to ammend it so i'm thinking of doing something with compost, manure etc. i'm still debating as we are having a lot of rain here and more to come.
My vegetable gardening techniques are geared toward year-round beds (I grow spring/summer/fall/winter crops). I till (hand-dig) year round. Someone else would be better able to advise for a summer vegetable garden.
well it certainly needs that. it is full of rocks and tiny gravel. horrible stuff. i siffted it to plant some seeds and it is 50% dirt 50% rocks. being my first bunch of "dirt" i ever ordered i didn't know until it was too late. i am writing a letter of complaint, of course now the printer isn't working. LOL so life goes on. if it's not one thing it's another... who said that?
LOLOLOLOL, Debi! Sure! And here are a couple more you can quote me on: "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country." "The British are coming! The British are coming!" and "Mmm-mmm, good!" ;-)