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Joys of Mulching

Vetch & Compost

Vetch & Compost

I have been mulching the beds and what a joy it is to be building fertile soil instead of digging it up and depleting it. I planted vetch over winter as a green manure crop and it has done really well blanketing the beds in thick, feathery green. So I began this years “build” by sprinkling some donkey manure (thanks Mingo and Nuno!) over the vetch. Then I added a cardboard layer which I soaked throughly. This did a great job last year of keeping the moisture in and the weeds out..

Cardboard Mulch

Cardboard Mulch

Next I added a top layer of leaf mold mixed with donkey manure…

Leaf Mold Mulch

Leaf Mold Mulch

So with the mulch club sandwich in place we are ready for planting! All of this mulch shall slowly transform into fertile humus, so we will have even more to build on next year.

As I was happily creating these beds I meditated upon the Benefits of Mulching…

Mulching stops the sun drying out the soil

Mulching keeps moisture in the soil so reducing the need to irrigate

Mulching improves as well as protects the soil

Mulching keeps a balanced temperature in the soil

Mulching feeds and protects the organisms in the soil

Mulching reduces the need to dig and plough

Mulching works with the principles of nature and ecology

Mulching saves time because digging, weeding and irrigating are reduced or not required at all.

…and the more I meditated on all this the more insane appeared the practices of modern agriculture…endlessly ploughing depleting soils, dumping large amounts of artificial petroleum based fertilizer to enable anything to grow, not to mention the spraying with toxic weed killers…what will we do when the oil starts to run out??



  1. Ant. says:

    Mulching is definitely the most efficient and ecological way to grow annuals. However I wonder if the glue used in cardboard boxes and the ink of newspapers or magazines, although minimal are toxic in any way and there fore not compatible with organic gardening. Would love to know your thoughts on this. : )

    Last year I experimented with straw mulch here in the UK but its benefits were negated by creating a very cosy home for slugs! Very few plants survived the full season despite the nearly daily slug catching and disposal onto the compost (as we don’t like killing any living being, which makes for challenging “pest” controlling).

  2. Pete says:

    Hi Ant,

    I have heard that the glue in cardboard, especially corrugated cardboard, is toxic, but regarding newspaper I was told in my permaculture design course that they almost always use biodegradable inks, except for the glossly pages.

    I have decided to continue with cardboard, although mostly not thick corrugated stuff and am trying newspaper this year. Very tricky if there is any wind though, I was running around the garden chasing paper that blew away before i could wet it!

    Re the slugs, while we have some big ones here, they mostly run rampant in the winter when I am not growing anything, guess they are a bigger “pest” in the uk!

  3. Niels Kuipers(dutch) says:

    Hi Pete, It looks great the beds and garden! Brings back the enthusiastm again, nice to hear from you guys on this website, just surfing on the net.
    Good luck with growing this year, hope you’ll have lots of abundantly healthy foods there!

    Once i had used Reiki second degree to my vegetable garden, to help things grow, amazing quality and serenity in the garden and good crops too! Maybe another tool for the future in growing our foods! Greetings, from holland, Niels

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