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No Fuss Living Mulch  RSS feed

 
Ray Ko
Posts: 15
Location: Central Virginia zone7
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First of all, this is my first after registering 5 minutes ago. I've been lurking for a couple years and really appreciate the wealth of knowledge on these boards that has helped me with many projects on the 10 acre slice of heaven I bought in the country 2 years ago.

I am in zone7, close to central Virginia. Rainfall is usually ample. For the first 18-24 inches, the soil is 85% sand with virtually no organic matter. The water table is high--I accidentally stuck water at 8 feet when playing around with a Seymour auger. It's been abused. The 2 acre section I'm working with was recently clear cut, so it is hard and compacted and covered with stumps. Pokeweed, horsetail, wild blackberry and wild blueberry are thriving as are the oak, maple and holly stumps that are trying to regrow.

The plan is for this to eventually be my front yard--when we are able to build and move away to the country. I don't like grass, so I envision a front yard composed of annual and perennial edibles and I suppose some flowery stuff for the misses with a nice ground cover. I intended to cover the entire area with manure and get the groundcover started while I worked section by section on the other stuff. Well, I seem to have more projects than I have time to spend on the property, so I am looking for ideas for a ground cover for either the next few years if it's tall growing, or perhaps permanently if it's low growing. I can't till to prepare a proper seedbed because of the stumps or roots, so it's going to have to do well broadcast. I tried to use a plugger to make plugs of compost in which to plant seed, but my it wouldn't penetrate the ground deep enough. I'd like either something perennial or something that would reseed itself. It'd be great it I could also chop it for mulch.

In my annual garden plots, I have had success with buckwheat, white dutch clover, and sudangrass cover crops, but they all had decent seedbeds to start. How did I get my annual gardens beds going, you ask? Totally different set of problems. That area was once bulldozed for a home site so there was nary a stump or root in the way so I could get the tractor in there with no obstacles.

I know that ultimately what I am probably going to have to do is just layer the area in organic matter and rake in clover, or whatever ground cover I decide but every square foot of manure/compost or wood chips I have obtained thus far has been used for other purposes.

So, my question is what would you do with this area? Just let the native species have their way with it in the meantime, or do you have a trick for a no fuss way to get a living mulch/ground cover growing on this hellish spot of land? I don't have my heart set on a particular species.

Thanks!





 
Dave Dahlsrud
Posts: 507
Location: North-Central Idaho, 4100 ft elev., 24 in precip
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You might have good luck trying to frost seed a legume mix (clover, vetch,and alfalfa) or something like that in the late fall/early winter. Then maybe just spread a bunch of spend hay or cheap straw around and hope for the best.
 
elle sagenev
Posts: 1282
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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Not sure on groundcover but get some goats in there to help with the cleanup. It would go oh so much faster!
 
Ray Ko
Posts: 15
Location: Central Virginia zone7
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I'll have to try frost sowing. As for the goats, I wish. I have been wanting some critters ever since I bought the place. However, its an hour from my house and I make twice-weekly trips at most. Critter care from afar is something I am still mulling over.

What about seed balls/bombs? If these things can be haphazardly chucked over fences and grow, they surely would work for my spot.

I see lots of instructional material, but not much in the way of documenting actual success. I am experimenting a bit now, but they always want to sprout before they dry. Any success stories to show and tell? Hmmm... I think I am starting a whole new thread!
 
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