Saturday, August 9, 2014

Grass Clipping Mulch

I'm a big user of mulch, number one for weed control. During drought years, mulch is a major water conservation method. And another major use for mulch is to provide a good environment for the various soil micro organisms, which are what decompose the organic matter thus creating fertilizer for the plants. Lastly, mulch helps maintain an active worm population. 

My most often used mulch is grass clippings. Why? It's what I have the most of. I'd really prefer using our county mulch, but it's no longer available to me in vast quantities at an affordable cost. The county mulch is composed of mostly coconut tree trimmings and made an excellent soil amendment. But it is no longer being delivered to Ka'u. So I've had to resort to my number two favorite....clippings. 

Since I'm a big user of mulch, I finally upgraded from a hand push style mower to a riding tractor. I don't regret the upgrade at all. 
With all the abundant recent rain combined with the time of year, summer, the grass has been growing by leaps and bounds. So I've had no shortage of grass to harvest. The main problem is finding days when the grass is dry enough for mowing. 

I can harvest quite a bit of clippings in just two hours. 
The easiest way I've found so far for transporting the clippings is by loading them into trashcans. 
It might seem to be faster to simply fork them into the back of the pickup truck then unload from there, but that proved not to be the case. I find the trashcan method to be easier on me and take less time. 

When I apply this mulch, I don't pile it too thick. About a 4 inch fluffy layer is enough. That will compress down to around 1 to 1 inch in a week. Just about right. Thick enough to smother germinating weed seeds. Thin enough to allow most rains to reach the soil. If applied too thickly, then the clippings have a tendency to get gloppy and slippery, a sign of anaerobic decomposition. Since I want oxygen to be able to reach the soil, anaerobic decomposition is not good. Another problem of the mulch being too thick is that I get mice living in it. Mice will eat my vegetables. Not good either. 

Do I see slugs? You bet! But then, I see slugs even without mulch. The mulch offers me plenty of benefits, so I'll just deal with the slugs. 

Did you notice tractor, red truck, red trashcans? Actually yellow and green are my favorite colors, but I'm definitely attracted to red. 

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