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Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Magic of Mulch: One Man's Trash...

Mulchless tomatoes
Every winter I wonder if there is something wrong with me. As I take trash out to the alley, I see bags of leaves that people have raked up from their yard, bagged, and thrown away. I can't help myself. I inevitably grab the bags of leaves and load up my backyard with them. After collecting more than 15 bags this past winter, another neighbor heard what we were doing and started giving us bags of her leaves. The result was almost 30 bags of leaves piled up in my backyard. I normally mix the leaves in with my compost, but this was excessive. What to do... What to do...

As I spent time weeding my garden last weekend, I realized something. My vegetables are very happy in the compost-rich soil that I have, but the grass is equally as happy. Additionally, the top of the soil dries out in the sun, which I recently discovered is one of the causes of split tomato skins. Then I had an epiphany. It was like lightening hitting my brain. What if I used my Patriot chipper to shred several bags of leaves and I used those shredded leaves as mulch?
Healthy vegetables, dry soil, and grass

I rolled out the Patriot chipper and started running leaves through. Some of the leaves had gotten wet, which slowed down the process, but in about 45 minutes I had managed to shred six large bags of leaves. My kids and I started dumping the shredded leaves around the plants, giving them about one to one-and-a-half inches of mulch.

Already in one week I am noticing a difference. There is far less grass in my garden beds than I usually have in a week. When I worked on the sprinklers and dug down today, the soil was nice
and moist and healthy. And as the summer rolls on, the mulch-leaves
One inch of shredded leaves = happy plants
will start to break down and feed the soil. Additionally, the nice layer of leaves and branches that are spread on top just make the garden look nice, like a forest floor in the fall.

It's interesting how something that so many people bag up and throw away can be used in practical ways, both as an additive to compost and as a water retaining mulch. My neighbors' trash is saving me money! As we move into the throws of spring, happy gardening!

It's like a blanket for your veggies!

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