Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Grass Clippings

It turns out that the lawnmower is one of my really important gardening tools. It's never used in the actual garden itself, but it creates the material that is my favorite mulch : grass clippings.
Dry, brown clippings. Excellent for nest boxes and mulching.
In reality, I use grass clippings for more than just mulch. They are a major ingredient in compost, they are used as an edible litter in the chicken pen, plus I sometimes use dried clippings for lining the hens' nests.

Fresh green, and very wet, clippings great for the
compost pile. Also wonderful for the chickens.
Grass clippings make a nice garden mulch. They are easy to apply. I can control the thickness and get then into tight places. And they decompose as the soil microbes feed on them, thus creating food for the plants. Between crops, they are easy to till into the soil. And I can readily get more when I need them.

Mulch in the vegetable gardens. 
As a compost ingredient, they are easy to work with. Already finely chopped, they compost down quickly and are easy to mix with the other ingredients. I can choose to add very green clippings which are high in moisture and nitrogen. Or I can pick the clippings from overgrown pastures that  are mostly brown and quite dry. It all depends on what the compost pile needs.

Pineapple bed at the community garden. Mulch helps keep
the grass at bay.  
 The chickens love kicking around a pile of fresh clippings. They will end up eating a lot of it. And what they don't eat just adds to the pen litter. That pen litter is harvested weekly, sent thru the tumbler composters, and is ready to use as mulch in the garden in three weeks. Certain plants really respond well to this dressing, such as the kale, chard, collards, taro, and most greens.

Mulched areas have very little weeds. 
I harvest all my grass clippings from "clean" land, that is, land not treated with commercial chemicals. I have plenty of my own land that needs topping off ocassionally. In addition, my neighbor is really glad to have me come mow his acre anytime. I've actually had people offer their land for mulch harvesting, but presently I have all the land that I can handle.

I'm always asked about weed seeds. Don't I have problems? Quite honestly, not to date. Sometimes a patch of weeds will sprout in the garden, but I can either flip them over with a shovel, cut them with a scuffle hoe, or simply lay a thick layer of mulch over them. Seedlings are fairly easy to kill. But when I do have a trashcan full of seedy clippings, I normally direct that to the chicken pen so the girls can hunt out the seeds. They do a good job.

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