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I need mulch help

 
Posts: 17
Location: Western Oregon
homeschooling kids cooking
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Hi guys,
Now that the warmer weather has hit, I realize that I need mulch and I need it fast.

See, I have a garden bed planted across the front of my house that is in what I now know to be mega-clay! I have planted in it rosemary (topiaries...scored after Christmas!!), dwarf azaleas, sage, marjoram, lemon thyme, oregano, some grape hyacinths, creeping thyme (the non-edible ground cover) and a baby mock orange. The was my uber frugal attempt at beautifying my boring front yard (for the most part, I just planted clipping from my herb garden or got mega mark downs at the nursery). Anyway, I had hoped the oregano, sage, lemon thyme would become a lovely ground cover. I didn't want to have to buy mulch.

However, my garden bed is now riddled with what looks like rock hard worm castings (worms LOVE my clay soil in the summer winter/fall/spring - I cannot pull a single weed without some wiggly friends!) all lumpy on the top, and 1/4"-1/2" cracks. This bed is right up against my house, with about 1 1/2 ft. river rock to keep the soon-to-be mulch (?) away from the foundation.

Anyway, so...now I'm thinking mulch is a must.

We just bought a bunch of aged fir nuggets (size small) for our row of juneberries and I was wondering if the same mulch would be acceptable? Just a light inch or so to hopefully help the clay retain moisture and keep the worms from running away?

Also, we have a small and low-ish berm around a mature plum tree (those tiny plums that look like cherries) with some succulents (no idea what kind, they came with the place), a bleeding heart, rosemary, and some little flower plant my son picked out. Will the aged fir nuggets work for that as well?

We bought our aged fir mulch last night, applied it and it looked lovely, then I got online only to find out apparently mulch is a touchy subject. I had NO idea. I'm just wondering if I should get a finer mulch that will break down faster for the front herb garden, or will the small nuggets do (again, hope to be mulch free one day when everything grows together, but for the time being...  

P.S.
We are broke, don't have access to many leaves, but I am waiting on my neighbors to mow their non-fertilized lawn so I can snag all their grass clippings (who doesn't love raking 1/3 acre? Not THIS girl!)

Thanks in advanced for listening to me ramble, and any advice (ooooh, please keep it simple. I am a total newbie and do not speak full blown permiese :-)

 
pollinator
Posts: 317
Location: Victor, Montana; Zone 5b
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The fir mulch will work. The purpose of mulch isn't necessarily to break down quickly and add anything to the soil, just to prevent evaporation from sun exposure. The thicker the mulch, the more water retention you will get in your soil. Use any organic materials you can get your hands on. Think "no bare soil". Check craigslist for old straw people are giving away for free, you may also find some bags of leaves still sitting against peoples fences as you drive around. Good luck.
 
gardener
Posts: 1870
Location: Just northwest of Austin, TX
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If you need a large amount and have a spot where a dump truck can get to drop a load, it can be useful to talk to tree trimmers working in your area.  It costs most of them valuable time and money to drive to a dump site that usually also charges them a dump fee.  Because of that most professionals chip their trimming to fit more in the truck and are happy for a free dump site in the same neighborhood.

More companies are springing up that are willing to pay for these trimmings to sale on as bagged mulch, but it's nice while it lasts. I'm watching for the electric company to start trimming trees here, soon.  It's been a few years.
 
gardener
Posts: 1524
Location: Los Angeles, CA
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Casie Becker wrote:If you need a large amount and have a spot where a dump truck can get to drop a load, it can be useful to talk to tree trimmers working in your area.  It costs most of them valuable time and money to drive to a dump site that usually also charges them a dump fee.  Because of that most professionals chip their trimming to fit more in the truck and are happy for a free dump site in the same neighborhood.

More companies are springing up that are willing to pay for these trimmings to sale on as bagged mulch, but it's nice while it lasts. I'm watching for the electric company to start trimming trees here, soon.  It's been a few years.



^^^ THIS ^^^

Once the local tree-trimmers have you on their radar, they'll return again and again.  Just last night, I was sitting here watching the end of the baseball game when the doorbell rang.  It was Reuben stopping by at the end of day, asking if I wanted a load of chips?  If not, he'd have to run it to the dump first thing tomorrow morning.  Of course -- dump it in the driveway Reuben.  

Try Craig's List and see if there is anyone looking to dump them.  

Get a big sheet of plywood and a can of bright red spray paint—"Wood chips wanted.  Please dump here."
 
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And be sure to ""tip-tip-tip"" the driver...
Pull a $10.00 out of your pocket before the driver has a chance to leave your property....
You will be surprised how many loads of chips you can score....
 
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