• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

A comparison of sorts...

 
Nolan Robert
Posts: 59
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've been using a few different methods in my yard to see what works best.

It can get a bit hot here (90 degrees is considered hot here) and it doesn't get very cold (OMG it's 30 degrees outside?! better get my coat!)

Mediterranean climate.

I have a sheet mulch bed with corn and peas growing in it. Hardly ever needs watering. I've had mushrooms growing in it! And this in an area that is basically sand!

I have quite a few "Zai" pits. These are just holes I have dug out of the ground with a hoe, filled with compost and than topped off with some mulch and planted into. These require almost no water. I was watering them around once or twice a week at one point, but they stay moist because I think they have a microclimate going on since they are sunken. another interesting note is that the dead, dried out weed material congregates in these holes, so I think they are adding mulch to the soil all on their own! (I may have forked the pits too loosen the soil as well. Can't remember)

Another method I have been using is to fork over an area, add compost, than mulch. I think this has been working O.K. as well, but I'm not sure if this is better than the Zai pits and sheet mulch.

I don't know if I should be mixing the mulch into the soil, or just leaving it on top.

I know that in more humid climates the microorganisms will mix the mulch in themselves and that the moisture will help it to decompose. I don't have a ton of moisture in my yard, and ZERO worms (and I assume very little if any micro critters) I've been mixing the mulch in with a pitchfork, but I don't know if that will keep the moisture in as well as simply leaving the mulch on top (any ideas are definitely welcome) and keeping in moisture is essential now that we are getting into summer.

Out of all the methods, I have to say that the Zai pits have become my favorite. They are extremely simple, require little manual labor, and little outside material (hoe, compost, mulch if you got it, and seeds or a transplant)

What have some other folks found to be the best way of applying mulch to their environment?
 
Michael Vormwald
Posts: 154
Location: Central New York - Finger Lakes - Zone 5
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
In general, you can mix finished compost and/or aged manure into to soil, but during the growing season, mulch material is best left on top as a cover. This is because nitrogen in the soil is often 'tied up' while decomposing organic matter. I use compost also as a mulch to 'top dress' plants. as moisture passes through the compost, 'tea' is released to the plants and while also acting as a surface mulch to conserve moisture. I also mulch with leaves, grass clippings/hay, pulled weeds and even wood chips all as a cover to feed the soil and conserve moisture.
Also, consider green manure. These are crops you grow, then cut or mow to either leave the residual in place to decay or remove, compost and return.
I don't have your same challenging climate (although I have winter here in the NE US and a short growing season), but I feel many of these same techniques would work for you as well, perhaps in some ways with even more profound results.
 
Nolan Robert
Posts: 59
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Michael Vormwald wrote:In general, you can mix finished compost and/or aged manure into to soil, but during the growing season, mulch material is best left on top as a cover. This is because nitrogen in the soil is often 'tied up' while decomposing organic matter. I use compost also as a mulch to 'top dress' plants. as moisture passes through the compost, 'tea' is released to the plants and while also acting as a surface mulch to conserve moisture. I also mulch with leaves, grass clippings/hay, pulled weeds and even wood chips all as a cover to feed the soil and conserve moisture.
Also, consider green manure. These are crops you grow, then cut or mow to either leave the residual in place to decay or remove, compost and return.
I don't have your same challenging climate (although I have winter here in the NE US and a short growing season), but I feel many of these same techniques would work for you as well, perhaps in some ways with even more profound results.


I want to get a hold of some alfalfa seeds ( I think it is perennial here) and then intercrop annual food plants into the alfalfa stand, but I don't really know how I'm going to establish the alfalfa.
 
Michael Vormwald
Posts: 154
Location: Central New York - Finger Lakes - Zone 5
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I don't know that I would intercrop vegetables with alfalfa as it would be competing. Instead, like many no-till farmers, you might grow a cover crop, then knock it down (so it acts like mulch) and then plant through it.
 
Nolan Robert
Posts: 59
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Michael Vormwald wrote:I don't know that I would intercrop vegetables with alfalfa as it would be competing. Instead, like many no-till farmers, you might grow a cover crop, then knock it down (so it acts like mulch) and then plant through it.


Yeah I know that's how most folks do it, but I've read of Colin Seis pasture cropping his fields, where he has perennial grasses, and he subsoil plows lines in them, and plants wheat in the lines between crops, because the cool season annuals don't compete with the perennial and warm season grasses.

But it'll probably just be easier to do it the way you said.
 
Michael Vormwald
Posts: 154
Location: Central New York - Finger Lakes - Zone 5
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Nolan Robert wrote:
Michael Vormwald wrote:I don't know that I would intercrop vegetables with alfalfa as it would be competing. Instead, like many no-till farmers, you might grow a cover crop, then knock it down (so it acts like mulch) and then plant through it.


Yeah I know that's how most folks do it, but I've read of Colin Seis pasture cropping his fields, where he has perennial grasses, and he subsoil plows lines in them, and plants wheat in the lines between crops, because the cool season annuals don't compete with the perennial and warm season grasses.

But it'll probably just be easier to do it the way you said.


I think it might be different for grains, but I'm not sure how most veggies would fair with the competing alfalfa - perhaps take one bed and experiment?
 
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!