Sometimes you know you need something, but just can’t have it. So you try your best to make do and manage with what you can, but once you get your hands on something of quality then nothing else will do and then you make a way. This could apply to many things in the garden and the amount of times I’m made do with inferior tools only to find expensive things cost more for a reason – they are just better and don’t break as easily and the job at hand is more pleasurable to do and is less of a struggle. Spending a bit more on something long term like a good spade or a stronger greenhouse makes sense. They will last a long time and you enjoy taking care of them because they cost so much, but they become like old friends that you wouldn’t want to be without.
But there are other things in the garden that can put demands on the purse strings and for the less tangible it seems difficult to justify spending much on what can seem like a temporary item, especially when you need a lot of it. This is my problem with mulch.
I understand the benefits of mulch – it keeps the weeds down and locks in the moisture, and the right mulch can add organic material back to the soil and help improve the long term health of the garden. But…. When you have a garden as big as mine it is all very well in theory. So I’ve been a little creative in the past.
I paid a lot of money for a big bag of pea straw that was as light as a feather – but I was desperate – I wanted to mulch my garlic to help prevent the rust fungal spores from splashing up from the soil onto my plants. It didn’t work – my mulch wasn’t thick enough and I didn’t like it enough for my wallet to like it enough too! Several months down the track the pea straw is really thin on the ground, much has blown away and it is looking a tad threadbare as the earth pokes through in more places than are generously covered.
I mulched the asparagus with its own trimmings in the winter, and it must have worked as the beds stayed weed free… well mostly, there were one or two. Although I still wonder if it is wise to mulch something with itself, in case there were pests or diseases hanging in there. What if all I’ve done is given them a nice place to live over the winter, close to their favourite food joint?
I grow my own wheat from the chicken food – not for the wheat, but for the straw – to go under my strawberries. This works well as it keeps a bed active over the winter like a cover crop, gives a nice view of something green when not a lot else is growing, and well, it just seems like the right thing to do to mulch strawberries with straw.
I even use the old Christmas tree to mulch my blueberries! They seem to really like that, judging by the amount of berries fattening up on the bushes this season.
So when I was approached by the good people at Fiber Earth to see if I wanted to try out a bag of their new Lucerne mulch I jumped at the chance. I wasn’t sure how far a bag would go in my huge garden, but some mulch was better than no mulch. Opening the bag revealed a couple of surprises. Firstly – the bag was sealed in a way that upon opening changed it from a dense solid block to a mountain of fluffy mulch. Fortunately I opened it in my wee trolley that I had used to drag the bag into the garden, so I didn’t lose a drop.
The second thing was it was light, soft and fluffy and had a lovely sweet scent from the fermentation process. You could just tell it was going to be good for the garden. It went down on to the garden so easily and once in place it stayed in place. I carefully mulched around the onions in the main garden and then stood back and did nothing for months. There was nothing to weed and the onions grew steadily in their cosy mulched bed.
The mulchless onions in my overflow bed unfortunately didn’t benefit from the same treatment, and comparing the two – I think they flew into a jealous rage. They don’t seem to have thrived as well – they certainly aren’t as advanced as the other onions and they have been on the weeding schedule as there have been all manner of interloper trying to claim squatters rights in that bed.
So once again sometimes, somethings benefit from having the right product for the job, and I am extremely grateful to Fibre Earth for drawing my attention to something I had been looking for, for a long time, but never found anything that worked how I wanted it to. I think this will be a must have in my garden from now on and my soil will thank me for it.
Come again soon – now the garden is in control, mostly, I can focus on other things.
Sarah the Gardener : o)
For more information check out: https://fiberearth.co.nz/