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mulch ? Printed paper, chickens...

 
MiMi Rodriguez
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Hello. I am new to this forum and looking for information on "lasagna" gardening. I live in the deep South and have heavy clay soil. I was planning on doing some lasagna beds, using newspaper as a first layer. That is, until I saw a video on YouTube stating that newspaper and cardboard were not the way to go. So now I have a few questions--if I shouldn't use newspaper, then what is a good substitute? I really need something to keep the weeds at bay. I have hay that I use in my chicken coop that has lots of nice chicken poo on it. Can I use that or does the poo need to be composted before adding it to the layers? Also, my hens free range, so how do I keep them out of the garden (or is it better to let them have access?). I don't have the time or resources right now to build a fence to keep them out. Also, if I start putting down layers now, when is the earliest I can plant? Thanks for any advice given!
MiMi.
 
Lolly Knowles
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I read a few chapters in the book before returning it to the proper owner.

My personal feeling is that black and white newspaper pages are clean enough to use as a base for a lasagna bed. I would also use cardboard that isn't covered with ink. If I were in your shoes, definitely use the poopy straw.

The author of Lasagna Gardening talks about using black plastic over the newly laid beds to encourage heat build up to compost the disparate layers quickly. I believe she also mentioned planting in the beds as early as after two weeks.
 
Lolly Knowles
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You might try placing a section of chicken wire over the pile to discourage scratching.
 
Leila Rich
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Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Mimi, the paper/card question is rather hotly debated on here, so prepare for some conflicting opinions
I use as much as I can get hold of. While industrially produced paper/ink is far from 'clean', oil-based inks and solvents are illegal (here) and the chemicals used will break down.
I recommend further research. What's your comfort-levels vs 'what's in the stuff'?
 
Fred Morgan
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Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
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Just my opinion, whatever doesn't pollute that you have a lot of is the best mulch. Don't obsess too much about best, adequate is just fine.

We have tons, literally, of sawdust and wood shavings. We also have tons, literally, of sheep droppings. Makes an awesome combination because we have lots of it and it is free.
 
                        
Posts: 66
Location: San Diego
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Free is the key. If you have to buy mulch you won't ge able to afford enough to do the job. Just keep your eyes and mind open. There is free mulch available wherever you are. Ask around. If hay is grown in your area some of it has invariably been improperly stored and begun to mold. Hay like that is usually free for the hauling. The farmer or rancher wants it out of his storage shed to make room for good hay. If you have a pickup watch for the state or utilities trimming or removing trees and brush. Some crews will let you back your pickup under the chipper chute and load you up.
 
Jordan Lowery
pollinator
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Location: zone 7
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the best mulch is a mulch that is made up of all kinds of different things. sticks, leaves, grass, twigs, manure, wood chips, and even more. think outside of the monoculture mulch.

for the weed/grass suppression just pour boiling water where you want to put the bed, or if its hot around look into soil solarization.
 
                                                                    
Posts: 114
Location: Nashville, Tennessee, USA
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We have a little sawmill so boards work very well.
Tree surgery companies also drop off as many loads of wood chips as I can handle.

I learned from a colleague that blue berries like to be covered in White Oak chips.
Oak is a very acidic wood and they like that.
 
Moody Vaden
Posts: 55
Location: Maryland
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I have a little $100 bagger push mower that gives me all the mulch, (and exercise) that I want. In the fall, there is a development up the road, and the habitants rake up all their leaves and put them in bags at the end of their driveway. All I have to do is beat the trash man there. Make sure they don't have a chemlawn type service though. I've also started hitting up the tree trimmers for a dump site for wood chips. Whenever they are trimming in the area and I spot them, they will dump as much as I want for free. We have a lot of thoroughbred breeder farms in my area, so I can get lots of moldy alfalfa too. Also, our county has a nice compost/mulch system and they sell it for 10 bucks a truckload.
 
                                                                    
Posts: 114
Location: Nashville, Tennessee, USA
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I am sure you keep and reuse all of those trashbags?

Tree trimers here have to pay to dump their chips.
So you may consider charging them.

I have been hearing that blueberry bushes like Oak chips because they are acidic.
 
Deb Stephens
Posts: 375
Location: SW Missouri, Zone 7a
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books dog food preservation forest garden goat trees
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If you live anywhere near a sawmill, you should take advantage of the fact that most of them will let you haul away as much sawdust as you can carry. We have one less than a mile away and that has been our mulch of choice for years. We tried straw a few times, but the introduced weeds in an area formerly prisitne (no weeds -- just native plants) was too much for us. We spent more time trying to put a check on the dandelions and plantain sprouting through the woods and glades than we would have weeding the garden!

Be aware that sawdust is not only acidic, but because it takes a couple of years to break down completely, it robs the soil of nitrogen as it decomposes. Using it with a generous amount of farmyard manure (well aged -- never straight out of the coop or barn!) makes a great combination. It looks pretty and neat too -- unlike newspapers.

One other thing... Sawdust will lift and float away when you get a heavy rain or water with a hose. To get around that, you may need to use some edging material (especially if you are on any kind of slope). For ordinary watering of plants, we dig a small hole next to each plant as we set it in the soil in spring (not for row or field crops but for things like tomatoes, peppers and squash) and then set a steel can with a hole punched in the bottom about 1/3 of the way down in the hole. The sawdust gets piled around that. When we water, it only takes a minute to fill each can and let it slowly trickle into the soil around the roots of the plant. No disturbing the sawdust or wasting water by letting it evaporate from the soil surface.
 
Deb Stephens
Posts: 375
Location: SW Missouri, Zone 7a
18
books dog food preservation forest garden goat trees
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I forgot to mention that if you have a lot of trees around your place, leaf mulch is one of the very best things you can use -- from a nutrient perspective as well as from an economic one. Get neighbors to save theirs for you too.
 
Moody Vaden
Posts: 55
Location: Maryland
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Campy in Nashville, Tennessee, USA wrote:I am sure you keep and reuse all of those trashbags?

Tree trimers here have to pay to dump their chips.
So you may consider charging them.

I have been hearing that blueberry bushes like Oak chips because they are acidic.



They pay the county here, as well, but I see no reason to spoil a good thing and involve money, when I couldn't be more happy with the product I'm already receiving for free.
 
John Polk
steward
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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Be very careful if you charge (even a penny) to dump. Many jurisdictions look upon that as a "commercial dump site", and they require you to jump through many hoops to get required permits!
 
                                      
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I don't know about charging them to dump. They are doing you a favor by giving you free mulch and you are doing them a favor by saving gas/time/possible dumps fees by taking it away. Sounds like a fair trade, leave it at that.

Now is a great time in CA for free suburban mulch because people mix green grass clippings with their fallen brown leaves and put them out on the street for the city to pick up. Like said above, I try and beat the city to the punch and pick piles up first.
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