Mulch, mulch, mulch...

09 November, 2014

Just how far do you think four bags of sugarcane mulch goes?

Not very far, let me tell you.

They covered:

Four of the six (the other two had already been mulched) beds for the cordon espaliered apples in the orchard.


The bed on the left and the bed behind that have potatoes, which have been planted in the cardboard tubes to allow for a little mounding up.

The center front bed has cucumber seeds, which I am hoping I can train up the espalier wires; two birds, one stone style.

The other beds will be planted out with whatever else I can't squeeze in elsewhere in the front or back yard.

Also mulched was the corn bed.


And last but not least, I just managed to cover (will likely need a top up as it's not enough to prevent weeds and water loss) the tomato bed.


Four bags doesn't go very far. I will need quite a few more to adequately mulch the garden for summer. And mulch don't come cheap.

Anyone have any cost saving mulch solutions?

(I've already tried local arborists, but they aren't prepared to leave mulch on the kerb. Dammit.)

26 comments:

  1. Same problem here. I've partly addressed the expense-of-mulch issue by raiding my friend's pile of stable manure (horse poo mixed with wood shavings). I don't really have room to get serious about this, but I feel like I should be growing my own mulch - what's the dry temperate equivalent of sugar cane?

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    1. Over here the advice is not to put too much fresh wood shavings onto your soil because it can lock up the nitrogen and make it chemically unavailable to your plants.

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    2. Would the nitrogen in the manure negate the soil lock up?

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    3. Alexis - I get manure from a pigeon racing friend which is mixed a bit with what I guess is straw (I've never asked, but I should) but is mostly manure. Yay for friends who give you shit :)
      I likewise don't have the space to grow my own mulch in sufficient quantities. It is a choice between buying it in or letting the plants die in the heat.

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    4. Yeah, it's not very nitrogeny, horse-poo, compared to, say, bird-poo -- I completely agree, Asparagus Pea, that wood shavings stop the plants getting nitrogen (and they're often from pine-trees, too, so hello acidification). I'm dealing with this by hosting big piles of decomposing stable manure. I wee into a bucket and dilute with water and then use this delightful concoction to water the manure piles. It seems good to go as mulch after a couple of months.

      "Yay for friends who give you shit" - ha!

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  2. Have you ever thought of buying a few bales of straw and using as mulch?

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    1. I have, but short of travelling a long distance (petrol cost adding to straw cost) I don't know where I can get it cheap. I've looked online but most places charge a packet for freight and I wouldn't be any better off. But I'd be happy to hear of Melbourne places to get straw bales cheaply!

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  3. I am running into the same problem. I grow lemongrass and use that as mulch which works quite well in this climate,(the tropics) but I still need more. With the wet season being slow to arrive we have been collecting tons of leaves from the lychee tree and they compost down pretty fast with kitchen scraps and the odd green trimmings. I lay that as mulch before most people would say that it is fully composted. We often gather seaweed from the beach too - that is great mulch especially for the salt loving asparagus. I look forward to seeing what other suggestions arise from this post.

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    1. Yes, I also collect deciduous tree leaves and redistribute in my yard as mulch. But I don't have anywhere near enough. Thanks for the seaweed tip, I'll look into that!

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  4. "(I've already tried local arborists, but they aren't prepared to leave mulch on the kerb. Dammit.)"

    And if they did it would probably go walkabout before you could get it in.

    The garden looks lovely. How nice to be able to plant things and not worry about rabbits!

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    1. True!
      Cheers. There are many a rabbit nearby at the local river, but they haven't yet discovered my place. I hope they never do!

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  5. Around here a lot of people use grass clippings - just a light layer on top of the soil. I have plenty of weeds in my grass and usually there is something flowering when I'm cutting it, so I often just go with straw, which is also pretty abundant here in Canada. The only trick is that you have to think ahead as you are usually only able to get it in the fall.

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    1. Hmmm, maybe I could asked the neighbours for their lawn clippings. It bears investigating.
      Barring drought we can usually get straw, it's just how much demand there is and how much it costs!

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  6. garden beds always look so neat once freshly mulched. that is, unitl the balckbirds come along. i'm sure they think i put that down for their pleasure!

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    1. Indeed. I've started covering mulched beds with wire lattice to stop their mulch redistribution services.

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  7. can i ask - i just read your post again - in the last pic, is that plastic barracading like they use around roadworks and so on? that would be so lightweight and easy to roll up at the end of the season. what a great idea!

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    1. Of course, ask away. It is plastic lattice that I got from the big green shed. It doesn't quite roll up but cut in flat sheets it stacks easily. I use it for growing tomatoes, cucumbers and climbing beans and peas up. It's very versatile.

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    2. thanks bek for a great idea. i can see it would be so much easier to manage than the bits of wire or reo i currently use.

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  8. Its a pity you don't have a spot in your yard to get woodchips dumped on.
    I get truckloads of chips dumped and the arborists are usually happy to oblige.
    The last guy said I saved him a lot of time and money (saving the diesel and time of a 2 hour truck trip)
    The chips eventually rot down to a nice black mulch, especially if kept moist.

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    1. I know. They won't dump it on the nature strip even if I have given them the ok (something to do with the council...) and it's not possible for me to give access to the yard unless I happen to be home at the time they want to dump it. Yes another reason to say "bloody council"!

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  9. Golly, you've been cracking on, looks great! Check around a few councils, some have mulch available from street maintenance works that you can get either very cheaply or free. Just need to organise a trailer and some braun. Have you a spot off street the arborists could reach or even a neighbour who would oblige? Barter some produce for parking your mulch until you barrow it home! Stable manure is good but compost first, also need to be mindful with all manures it may contain worming meds, so composting first breaks this down. You can also get bags of compressed rice hulls which aren't that expensive and when you open them they shock you with how much there is. Can tend to blow around a bit when dry though. Good luck!

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    1. Cheers! Yes, I know a local council depot I can get compost from, but not mulch. Braun is not an issue, a trailer is as my car doesn't have a tow at. I currently fill up the boot and back seats with bagfuls but it's not ideal.
      I'd love to get a neighbour to look after it, will look into it. Cheers.
      Also thanks for the minute composting tip, I'd not considered meds needing to breakdown.
      I've tried coconut shell mulch before but didn't really thing I got much in the bag. Will look into rice hulls though.

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  10. I grab mulch from the big markets in Sydney (Flemington). They have a horticultural supplier and the sugar cane is certainly cheaper than Bunnings. I do think a vegetable garden looks better with s straw mulch that breaks down in the garden rather than getting a delivery in bulk from a landscape supplier (which is possibly the next cheapest choice and you can get one that has already been broken down by them).

    I found straw has too many seeds and you spend half your life pulling out even more weeds so just be weary of cheaper straw bales.

    I used 5 bags recently and still have half the garden to do. Of course it all needs to be re weeded first ahhhgh. Oh well when I can bend down again I guess it will have to wait.

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    1. Much, I wonder if there is something similar in Melbourne. Will have to look into it. Cheers!
      I too am picky with straw, not wanting to make my weeding any harder by spreading weed seeds all over the place!
      I hope the not being able to bend down is not injury related! If so, I hope you are on the mend. Weeds wait for no man! (Or woman).

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  11. Do you have an animal feed store close buy? Or a racecourse that has horses stabled close by. Maybe there is a supplier of hay around there? A bale of lucerne might be expensive but would go further. Or maybe a proper nursery (no offence bunnings) They might supply and deliver straw to you. One thing that I am trialing is growing Lucerne/Alfalfa around my plants. Its supposed to improve my soil by bringing in nitrogen and then I can cut the plant back and lay it down to become straw. I saw it on Gardening Australia earlier in the year. I buy my seed online or use the seeds intended for micro greens. Its much cheaper and even if I have to lay down mulch still, it will be a good extra to add. :) Wow I never thought about lucky us country people are when it comes to getting mulch and compost for the garden. Good luck. :)

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    1. I have looked into it, but nothing really close. I'd be breaking even by the time you take into account travel time and petrol, and getting it delivered is the same. But I will keep my eyes open. Yes, us city slickers do come off worse in some things :)

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