5. Gardening The Magic Way—With Mulch, Compost, Sea Weed Spray
You can mulch with anything that will decay, if it doesn’t contain toxic or poisonous substances. Some materials are better than others. A very good mulch material, easy to obtain (at no cost) is grass clippings, your own or your neighbors’. If possible, spread them out to dry, before using them to mulch your garden. If you do use green clippings, don’t apply them directly to the soil, as this can rob the soil of nitrogen. Spread green clippings in a thin layer on top of previously-applied “cured” mulch; this will allow them to dry. If applied in a thick layer, they may mat down, become slimy, build up heat, and develop odors.
Piled up or bagged green grass clippings will get hot, but, when spread on the ground, they don’t even get hot enough to hurt earthworms. But don’t put fresh or green mulch up against tender young plants, as enough heat may build up to scald the plant. Of course, trees should never be mulched right up to the trunks, even if the mulch is “cured”—at least ten inches from the trunk for citrus trees and several inches for other fruit trees.
You should also use all the leaves you can get. There are many other mulch materials: hay, straw, wood chips, sawdust, cottonseed hulls, peanut shells, corn cobs, seaweed and sea grasses, ashes, and some others—almost anything that will decompose without being too messy.
Dried grass clippings mixed with leaves are often the most practical. This is clean and easy to handle, and enhances the appearance of your garden and trees. If you have oak leaves in your mulch, it will repel slugs, snails, cutworms, and June bug grubs. Alfalfa grass is an excellent mulch—it contains a valuable amount of nitrogen.
Maintaining a six-inch organic mulch at all times conserves moisture, and helps to produce the conditions for building a living soil and a top-quality garden. The mulch also creates conditions which discourage nematodes (microscopic worms which produce root knot, causing deterioration or death of plants). A permanent mulch also controls erosion, regulates soil temperature, and eliminates the necessity for spading, raking, cultivation, and weeding.
Cover crops will be unnecessary, you will need less compost, and fewer insect controls. The mulch encourages earthworms, which help to aerate the soil and enrich it with their castings. The soil will never get hard or muddy, the vegetables will be clean and pleasant to harvest.
Mulch makes “sheet composting” easy and practical—because you can tuck your table scraps in between the layers of mulch and there will be no eyesores, odors or other nuisance. It is not necessary to remove the mulch in the spring “so the ground will warm up” or in the winter when frost threatens. Because some weeds grow in cool weather, keep the ground well mulched all winter.
Mulch is indeed the gardener’s “magic carpet,” relieving him of many tedious tasks, and aborting a large percentage of incipient problems. If you make no other changes in your gardening methods, at least don’t fail to take advantage of this easy “green thumb” idea.
Organic compost is a fertilizing mixture of various organic substances, which have been mingled and decomposed. Many people build their own compost in piles, pits or bins, and there are various methods of doing this, but it does take some space, lime and work, and you and your neighbors might also have to put up with some odors and flies, although there are ways to avoid both by careful planning and attention. If there are many citrus peels in the compost, there will be noticeably pleasant odor. Don’t ever put in wet garbage without a covering layer.
One of the simplest method of building a compost pile is described in Down to Earth Vegetable Gardening Down South by Bullard and Cheek. Start with an eight-inch layer of grass, leaves and kitchen wastes (mingled or in any order); next a two inch layer of manure or other nitrogen source. Cover with a one-inch layer of earth, and sprinkle generously with water. Continue this three-layer series, building to a maximum height of five feet. If shredded materials are used, the compost will be ready in a few weeks, and no turning of the pile will be necessary. Occasional light sprinklings of dolomite lime will add nutrients (magnesium and calcium) and create a better balance, Greensand is another excellent soil conditioner. It comes from deposits laid down in what was once the ocean, and contains potash, magnesium, iron, silica and other trace minerals. Some other organic-fertilizing materials are rock potash, straw, alfalfa, hay, tobacco stems, peanut shells, and soybean meal. It is much better to include these fertilizing materials in a balanced organic compost than to try to use them individually.
Seaweed is a rich source of nutrients. If you can get seaweed or sea grass, use them. Some people prefer to wash the seaweed before using, or weather for three months, to reduce or eliminate the salt transfer, but these processes may also leach out other valuable nutrients.
If seaweed is not available, you can obtain a nutritional seaweed spray. One of these products is called “Maxicrop Liquid Seaweed (Kelp Extract).” It is a soil activator and conditioner, and its use results in a crop of higher yield and better quality. It helps to produce stronger, healthier plants with greater resistance to insects, disease, and adverse climatic conditions. The effect is cumulative and the soil improves with each application.
- 1. Organic Gardening Is The Counter-Part Of Natural Hygiene
- 2. What Exactly Is Organically-Grown Food?
- 3. Soil Analysis
- 4. Basic Steps To Establish A Successful Garden
- 5. Gardening The Magic Way-With Mulch, Compost, Sea Weed Spray
- 6. Soil Requirements For A Successful Organic Garden
- 7. Approximate Amounts Of Compost, Mulch And Water
- 8. Planting Your Garden
- 9. Insects: Friends And Foes
- 10. The Case Against Commercially-Grown Foods
- 11. Four Methods
- 12. No Space For A Garden?
- 13. Harvest Of Pleasure And Health
- 14. Questions & Answers
- Article #1: Vegetable Preferences
- Article #2: Companion Plants
- Article #3: Nitrogen Fixation By John Tobe
- Article #4: pH Preferences Of Some Plants
- Article #5: Dirt Cheap? Nonsense! It’s Vital to Garden
- Article #6: Soil Test Secret To Success By Gene Austin
- Article #7: Pesticides—They’re Killing Bugs—and the Land By Ronald Kotulak
- Article #8: Pesticides—There Are Workable Alternatives To the Dusts, Sprays, and Oils By Joan Jackson
- Article #9: Containing Inhibits ‘Raiders’ By Gene Austin