Sunday, April 1, 2012

Mulch Much?

     One of the most important aspects of a sustainable homestead is healthy soil.  Probably the most popular method of adding nutrients to your garden is with a compost pile.  But what if you are just starting from scratch?  Should I till up some ground and hope for the best? 
     Nathan and I recently were introduced to a new (and I think smarter) way of gardening.  The method goes by many names, but we call it the weed free method.  In nature the soil is meant to always be covered.  Be it grass in the prairie or pine needles and leaves in the woods, for your soil to naturally replenish its nutrients it should be mulched.

     Here are some tips that I am using for my garden this year:

          ~  DON'T till up your ground!  Instead use a lasagna method with newspaper, then soil mixed with some compost and then topped with some sort of mulch.  We will be using wood chips and pine needles for our mulch.  Pine needles break down quickly and don't blow away.
         ~  Be sure to plant into the soil and not the mulch.
         ~  The best wood chips are not from the store, but from local sources that haven't been treated.  The more natural the product is, the faster it will break down.  While that means you will have to add more every year, it also means more food for your soil.  A good source may the the power company.
         ~  Laying straw on the ground will kill weeds, and can be added above the newspaper in your lasagna garden.
         ~  Earthworms can be your best friend in the garden.  They are natures tillers.

“And God said, “See, have given you every herb that yield seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food.” - Genesis 1:29       
     I have spend the past few days out on our property with a shovel.  About half of our property is treed so that makes for a whole lotta pine needles.  Under these needles is a beautiful layer of what my hubby calls black gold.  Over the years, pine needles have piled up, composting and enriching the soil below.  I am now spending every spare moment I have out in the trees shoveling the compost into a wagon, then hauling the wagon down to the yard.  

     I used the lasagna method when I planted my raspberry bushes Friday.  This picture was taken today and I have already noticed an increase of leaves since I bought the plants last Saturday.

Here's a nice picture of the area where I was talking the dirt from.

     For more information on this method of gardening I highly recommend the book "Weedless Gardening" by Lee Reich.  I have found it packed full of highly useful information.  You can also view a really great video for free online called "Back to Eden".  It is beautifully done by a man who reminds me of the verse,

"And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." - Colossians 3:17

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  1. These are great tips! We have all kinds of pine needles at the City House...I will be looking at them in a whole new light now! xo

  2. We love the Back to Eden video. We have and are contacting wood chippers to drop the unwanted chips at our homestead. It's awesome!

  3. I loved that video I watched it many times and posted it on my blog months back! I also have a good post on "Hugelkulture" at:


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