Monday, April 22, 2013

Gibby’s Garden Diary Entry #2: Leaves as Mulch?

April 22, 2013

Despite the windy weekend, I did get some raking done and managed to get one of my gardens mulched. I decided to convert one of my vegetable beds into a permanent herb garden. The garden gets plenty of sun and is conveniently close to house so I can wonder outside while cooking and snip the fresh herbs that I need.

As far as the mulching goes - I killed 2 birds with one stone as the saying goes. All the leaves I raked went into the designated herb garden. Now, this isn’t a choice all gardeners would make because it does have some drawbacks, but I’m trying something a little new this gardening season.

Here’s the plan. Since I’m putting in herbs and I’ve decided to go with plants from my local nursery to save on time, I’m not planning on tilling my entire herb garden. I’ll be doing the tilling by hand as I plant each herb and adding my finished compost as I go.

My plan, to help save on time since I go crazy planting vegetables each season, is to mulch  my gardens before doing the planting. Since my large vegetable beds will be tilled later this month or the beginning of the next, I’ll wait to mulch those with mulch hay. As I plant my plants and seeds, I’ll rake the mulch to the side for each individual row and replace it as necessary.

I’m hoping this will save time and help me to not get worn out. Plus, it’ll keep the weeds down from the beginning of the season saving even more time. My goal is to implement new ways to save time on gardening, something that I love, that way I don’t get burnt out and I can have time to enjoy other things this summer.

Now, as for using leaves as mulch, I typically don’t do this. As I mentioned before it does have some drawbacks, but it also has a good side. First the good side. Leaves, at least in my yard, are abundant and free! They’re also organic and will break down over time. As for the drawbacks, a thick layer of leaves provides the perfect hiding spot for pests. Brown leaves are also not the prettiest things to look at.

I’ll have to wait and see just how many pests the leaves invite into my garden this season before I can tell if it’s worth the free and abundant mulch. I figure when my plants go in and begin to grow, they’ll detract the eye from the brown leaves.

For the record, I wouldn’t use leaves that have been piled up all winter long or for a few seasons. I’ve tried this before and they were full of ants and had already begun to break down. The leaves I used were the ones I was too lazy to rake up last fall.

I’ll keep you guys posted on how well my time saving experiment works throughout the gardening season. Until then . . .

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