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Mulching Comparison Experiment

 
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I've seen quite a few "Deep Mulch vs...." experiments. I've tried a bunch of different methods myself over the years. This time I am doing a more comprehensive method comparison in close proximity to try to eliminate as many uncontrollable variables as I can. You can follow along on the blog:

Battle Royale (Agrarian Style)

Battle Royale Pt 2 - Sustainability

Discussion encouraged. Obviously the timeline of further updates is on the scale of months, but I might just add some more in depth thoughts on each method while I'm still in winter mode. Most of you probably already have knowledge on each method equal to or beyond my own, so anything anyone can add or explain along the way would be appreciated.
 
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I am doing much the same.  I have only a small amount of sawdust and bark from firewood preparation.  I have 2.5 acres of grass available.  I cut tall grass with a scythe and using it under trees where I want more fungal dominance seems to work well.  Grass that is less than a foot high I cut with a riding lawnmower that blows it into a wagon.  There is considerable difference between green grass and standing dry grass. Standing tall dry grass lasts the longest and is most fungal. Short dry grass chopped by the mower composts in place but is more rain resistant on dry ground.  
I also gather leaves wit the mower which chops large leaves but does not change the small leaves much.
 
Ezra Beaton
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Short dry grass chopped by the mower composts in place but is more rain resistant on dry ground.  



Could you expand on this? I think I get what you're saying but I'm not certain. Are you talking about the grass matting tightly and preventing rain infiltration vs dry straw allowing gentle water percolation?
 
Hans Quistorff
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Ezra Beaton wrote:

Short dry grass chopped by the mower composts in place but is more rain resistant on dry ground.  



Could you expand on this? I think I get what you're saying but I'm not certain. Are you talking about the grass matting tightly and preventing rain infiltration vs dry straw allowing gentle water percolation?


Yes.  On wet ground either will help to protect against wind and sun drying it out but mulch that compacts will wet on the surface and dry out without any reaching the soil underneath while loose bulky material will often allow rain penetration to the soil and only the exposed surface dries out.
 
Ezra Beaton
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To prevent this you can treat the clippings as hay before applying to the garden - cut in the mid morning after dew is dry, rake once surface dry, turn until evenly dry, then collect and apply. This makes a wonderful mulch. It can compact over time, but if applied only between rows instead of as a large sheet it will allow absorption quite readily.
 
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I'm just beginning my permaculture journey.  I guess I'm really just beginning to garden, but I'm learning and working towards some permaculture/sustainability goals.  I've just learned about mulch and how it helps, but I wondered what to use for mulch.  Reading through this thread helped me understand it a little more.  I'll continue to keep an eye on this thread.  Thanks for posting it.  It seems like anything could be mulch, maybe with a few caveats.  

Edit: I did some research about mulch and asked my neighbors if they use herbicides or pesticides in their field, bc I get all my hay from their hay fields, and they said no only fertilizer.  So I should be okay to use hay as a mulch.  I'm just now learning that I need to keep mulch on my vegetable bed.  I thought it was just for when nothing was planted in there to prevent leaching.  But I can see the benefits of keeping the soil covered while everything's growing.  I'm really very new to all gardening and I hope I don't sound ridiculous, lol.
 
Ezra Beaton
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Keith Apliguisi wrote:I'm just beginning my permaculture journey.  I guess I'm really just beginning to garden, but I'm learning and working towards some permaculture/sustainability goals.  I've just learned about mulch and how it helps, but I wondered what to use for mulch.  Reading through this thread helped me understand it a little more.  I'll continue to keep an eye on this thread.  Thanks for posting it.  It seems like anything could be mulch, maybe with a few caveats.  

Edit: I did some research about mulch and asked my neighbors if they use herbicides or pesticides in their field, bc I get all my hay from their hay fields, and they said no only fertilizer.  So I should be okay to use hay as a mulch.  I'm just now learning that I need to keep mulch on my vegetable bed.  I thought it was just for when nothing was planted in there to prevent leaching.  But I can see the benefits of keeping the soil covered while everything's growing.  I'm really very new to all gardening and I hope I don't sound ridiculous, lol.



You can't know what you don't know. - No idea who said it but you should never feel bad or insecure about being new to something!

Yes just about any organic material can be mulch, traditional farming and gardening often uses dirt mulch - the epitome of using what you have. We now know there are a lot of downsides to dirt mulch - mostly linked with it's increased susceptibility to erosion by rain and wind - but there are definitely use cases, especially when you just don't have anything else temporarily. The dirt mulch is just the loose layer of dirt that is left after shallow cultivation. The density difference between the fluffy layer of dirt and the moist soil below helps prevent capillary action of water to the surface and acts as a sacrificial substance to absorb the sun's rays and insulate the ground. This method requires you to cultivate after every rain as soon as it is dry enough to do so - high labor! And it leaves the top layer incredibly vulnerable to erosion - high risk! But it is in fact better than nothing.

Any other permies finding themselves turning "Well it's better than nothing" into a personal mantra?
 
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If it’s Bermuda hay make absolutely sure it’s dry and dead. The slightest bit of green and you then have a Bermuda garden. Ask me how I know :/
 
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