More mulch!

By February 2, 2012 My Garden 9 Comments

It’s a new year in the garden, boys and girls, and you know what that means?


*cue rising hysterical laughter here*

That’s right, it’s mulchin’ time! I had successfully finished off Mt. Mulch II by putting down a layer on the sideyard that will hopefully cook down until fall. (The permaculture workshop I attended last year suggested that if you’ve got an area where you know you want to plant, but aren’t going to get to it right away, put down mulch over it to help get the soil wetter and more pliable and wormy. This is particularly vital on our deathly clay soil.) It’ll be a mostly-shady bed, and I hold out hope for some solid fern-on-fern action, but the soil is currently hard packed clay. So, mulch!

I ordered a mere 5 cubic yards. This is great restraint by my standards. However, I’m kinda running out of new space for flowerbeds. There’s one big one left to put in the back, when I finish laying the patio, and then everything has been bed-ified.

Welll….I mean, I could expand the vegetable bed a smidge…no! Need to leave that project for fall! Otherwise fall will see me twitchy and restless and starting in on the wooded areas, which could totally be woodland garden space, and…well…I was kinda saving that for the bit where I go stark raving mad NEXT year.

Mt. Mulch III arrived today, accompanied by a smaller load of mushroom compost. I had noticed that they were selling it last year, and as we have moved waaaaay beyond “get a few bags of cow manure from the farmer who does our meat CSA” I’ve been looking for a bulk soil amendment. I went to the internet to do research into the world of mushroom compost.

After about an hour, I thought, as many have before me, that the internet would be really awesome if it wasn’t for all the damn people on it, and left the internet. The discussion seemed split between “This is the best thing ever created by human hands” and “This is useless and probably bad,” plus the obligatory “This will kill you and everything you love,” which I dismissed out of hand, since, y’know, internet.

I did what we all do in times of dismay—I called my mother.

“Oh, that stuff is awesome,” she said. “We got some one year and the garden was incredible.”

Good enough for me. As my mother has not, to my knowledge, mutated, exploded, or turned into a large Kafka-esque insect, I’ll give it a try and see how well it works. About the worst that happens is that I add some more organic matter to my poor wretched soil, really—even if it doesn’t get BETTER, the soil can’t get any worse unless I sink spent uranium fuel rods into it. We live in such a wet climate that the build-up of salts is unlikely to be an issue. So I’ll top-dress most of the beds with an inch of the stuff and see what happens. (The prairie planting is exempt, as we do not fertilize those, lest they become floppy and sad.)

For science! And mulch!


  • Jamie says:

    How does one go about buying such bulk quantities of mulch and mushroom compost? Hoping to find something like that up in my neck of the woods of northern Vermont.

  • Wolf Lahti says:

    Mulch can do wonderful things, but unless you buy the pre-composted type, in the process of decomposing it takes nitrogen from the soil–so be sure to test your soil and amend as needed once it has right and properly decayed.

    (This presumes we are talking about mulch some some woodish source, such as chipped wood or bark or even sawdust.)

  • Rhianimator says:

    There is no such thing as too much organic matter for heavy clay soils. I’ve had to garden in a place where you could use the so called soil to throw very nice pots from.

    And I’m sure we need not mention 10 pound clayballs clinging to your boots because someone decided to cultivate the garden a bit too early, and that sand would be a nice addition. *shudder*

    However, mushroom compost is very good for lightening up clay, since it’s the business of mushrooms to make organic matter ready for green plants to use, so the stuff won’t draw out nitrogen from the soil, nor do anything bad to the plants growing in it.

  • Wolf Lahti says:

    If you have clay soil, add organic matter.
    If your soil is too sandy, add organic matter.
    If your soil is too dry, add organic matter.
    If your soil is too wet, add organic matter.
    If your soil is too alkaline, too acid, too loose, too dense, too damned much anything, add organic matter.

    There seems to be a theme here. 🙂

  • Ellis says:

    I found the only major problem with mushroom manure was that it then sprouted mushrooms all over the garden and we could never bring ourselves to eat them because we didn’t know anything about mushrooms and couldn’t be sure if these were the happy eat us kind that popped up from the mushroom factory on their own or the blown in eat us and die from the kind that sprouted on their own. Hence, we never ate them which was too bad because there were many.

  • FiP says:

    I got in a ton of mushroom compost and dumped it straight into the new beds I’d made over our harder-than-rock-plus-containing-rocks clay soil.

    I shall never buy anything else again. It is BRILLIANT. It’s moist, light, friable, and breaks down into something that makes MY mouth water – all light and luscious and workable. I did mix a couple of handsfuls of the clay into it, just so it held water a bit more water and was less claggy to work with, and actually that worked fantastically. I’ve got a rhubarb plant with leaves going on 60cm wide (2 feet) and still growing. Am gobsmacked. (Note: it’s summer here).

    And double bonus – it doesn’t import weeds!! It’s taken almost two months for the usual weeds to start taking hold in it, rather than growing them immediately.

    I’m now planning about a ton (I love my ute) of the stuff every couple of months, so I can top up all the garden beds.

    You won’t regret it.

  • Theresa says:

    I’m kinda amazed that with all the mulch and compost work you’ve done over the years that your garden hasn’t grown to fifty feet high or begun worshipping you as a god.

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