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Do you mulch between garden beds/hugels? With what?

 
Nicole Alderman
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I hate grass. It and creeping buttercup are always invading my hugels and beds, and it's really annoying! I'm wondering if mulching between my beds would slow the invasion. I've never spent the time or money to mulch the paths between them, and I'm wondering if it's worth it to do it. What mulch is the cheapest/best (pretty sure I won't be able to get tree services to drop off mulched tree trimmings, as I live down a long grave; road). How deep does the mulch have to be? What are the downsides?

Thank you so much!
 
Bianca Cederberg
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Location: Skåne, Sweden
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It depends on what your local available options are. I would go for any kind of straw. Where I live the farmers usually have a few leftover hayballs leftover they cannot sell, so I have gotten some for free. Conventionally grown, unfortunately, but I think most of the poison has washed away in the rain before being placed in our garden. Best to get real straw - without seeds - if you hate grass, although chances of germination are probably low if you throw down a thick enough layer. Have you seen any of ruth stout's videos? She tells us alll about the benefits of straw mulch. Keeps the ground soft, moist, protected from trampling, keeps weeds at bay, the whole shebang. So it can be worth it.

Some kind of black fabric tarp could also work for you. Though the couch grass might still make its way through!
You could also spend a little more and make it pretty - get shitloads of newspapers and make a thick layer. Then cover with some barkmulch. Makes it look real fresh and earthy!

 
Tracy Wandling
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I mulch with chips, but we have a chipper and we're clearing Broom and alder, so I'm pretty lucky that way. I also use cardboard under the chips in an attempt to at least slow down those viny prickly things (Himilayan blackberry?) that are constantly tripping me.    Any unwanted plants that I pull out, or trimmings from harvesting, go on the paths as well. Except the prickly ones. We have lots of bracken fern that I pull up and lay on paths.

If I didn't have chips, I would just be using whatever organic material I had, but without the cardboard. That stuff is slicker than snot on a glass doorknob when it's wet! Unless I could really pile on the organic matter, I'd leave the cardboard out. Perhaps newspaper would be better, if one doesn't mind using that sort of thing.

Old carpet might work well, I think. Of course, I'd cover it with organic matter as much as I could - but that's because I want a pretty garden.   But it would probably do the job admirably. Hmmm, might grab some at the free store next time I'm there.

That's all I can think of right now, but I'll continue to ponder it, and come back if I think of anything else.

Cheers
Tracy
 
Nicole Alderman
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I sadly do not have a source for wood chips. I really should try to contact one of those tree trimming services and see if they'll drive down our private drive to drop them off, I doubt it though.... I'm wondering if pine shavings from the farm co-op would work? I've tried mulching my paths with extra weeds, bark from our fire wood, cedar branches, and grass, but I've never managed to get the mulch deep enough to do much good. Creeping buttercup LOVES to grow right on top of thin mulch here, and so does the horrible lawn grass that spreads by runners. Last year I simply didn't have time/ability to weed out the mulched areas, as I was pregnant with a two year old. Hopefully my newborn will be happy with me weeding with her on my chest this year....

Do you weed your mulched areas? If so, do you use a tool for it? I've always just weeded sitting with my hands, but babies tend to hate when I do that wearing them, and I'm wondering if there's a tool that would allow me to weed the paths while standing. My parents just gave me this extendable hoe/cultivator, but I've never used either a hoe, nor a cultivator...



Tracy Wandling wrote: I also use cardboard under the chips in an attempt to at least slow down those viny prickly things (Himilayan blackberry?) that are constantly tripping me. 


If the viny things are tripping you, they're probably Trailing Blackberry (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rubus_ursinus, https://www.pnwflowers.com/flower/rubus-ursinus). Himalayan and Evergreen blackberries are horrid, thorny monstrosities that grow up and over, and grow at an insane pace. Trailing blackberry has much thinner canes/vines, is less prickly, and make DELICIOUS berries--tasting a lot like Marionberries. I have all three types on my property and actually encourage the Trailing blackberries in many areas, making them trellises, mulching with duck bedding, and pruning them. They're really good! My grandparents tell me that years back a pie shop would pay crazy amounts for a gallon of those berries (they stopped a few years ago and substituted regular blackberries because the trailing ones were so hard to find) so if you have trailing blackberries, you might be able to sell them at market for a relatively good price. 

 
Charli Wilson
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I also use woodchips, with corrugated cardboard under. Keeps the mud at bay, drains quickly, and the chickens dig in it and eat the critters.
 
Steve Taylor
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Location: Akron, Ohio
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I used my grass/ leaves clippings from mowing with a bagger.  It works great if you keep applying throughout the year. It's much easier to weed what pops through. Although it will strengthen perennials (blackberry in question).  But it will be easier to dig the soil up with the mulch.  In my experience only applying an inch or so depth at a time allows the soil to integrate the grass easier into the soil and doesn't create a thick mat that is too hard to dig and wicks water away. 

If you do have too much grass for the job I like to smother future garden areas with it, as well as pile it up along the garden bed edges and paths to smother and be available for when I need mulch again.
 
chip sanft
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I was just thinking about this same issue myself the other day, as I was poking around looking for worms and found grass runners and creeping charlie growing up and over through a good 6-8" of aged manure / stable scrapings I put down a couple months ago.

For me, the only thing that stops grass runners is cardboard, which always feels like a blunt force instrument. And an ugly one at that.

So when I can, I mostly just let the grass grow. This works for me because: 1) grass is organic matter like any other, 2) it will die if covered with cardboard, whereupon it turns in good stuff, 3) it doesn't like shade, so come spring I can cut it back and plant my plants and they do alright still, generally, and 4) it's better than some of the viney plants. If it otherwise gets in the way, I chop it, and it chops and dries well.
 
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