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Chosen as one of the Top 30 Organic Gardening Blogs – March 2018

Hay or Straw – Which to Use for Mulch

Everything considered, I’d recommend straw for most gardeners rather than hay as mulch to use in your garden. Here’s why.

Hay – What is It?

As far as the farmer is concerned, the main use of hay is to feed animals in seasons when grasses are not growing. He will want it to have the highest nutritional value for the animal. Because of […]

Why Mulch Your Garden Paths?

This post was inspired by a reader of my site who has recently invested some time in preparing a new garden bed.  Her sister-in-law is doing the same and they had a question regarding a recommendation I made in the second part of the post Soil Preparation – 1st Key to Soil Improvement.

In preparing a new bed I advised adding about 3 feet to each side of the area designated for the bed and dig that at the same time you dig the bed.  The soil from the path area would be thrown up on the bed leaving the paths much lower than the bed.  I then recommended mulching the paths as well as the bed.

(Picture below shows my new roll of straw.  I try to keep one on hand all the time.)

My reader writes:
“My sister-in law was wondering —and I got stumped a bit— as to why it is important to mulch the paths.  ———I guessed that since you use the path dirt to raise the bed, old weed seeds get exposed.  Mulching the paths helps keep the weeds down and keeps them from seeding into your beds.—”

She’s correct of course.  When you dig up ground —– buried weed seeds are exposed and therefore can germinate. Mulching the paths keeps the weeds down and/or controllable.

The nearer weeds grow to your garden beds the greater the chance they’ll re-seed in your bed.  Even if you’re diligent in removing them ——life is life —–and in all probability sooner or later you are going to have some weeds grow and go to seed in your beds.  Much less chance of this happening with mulch on the paths.

There are other important reasons to mulch —–read more—-

Strawberries - New Plants Every 4 Years in a New Place

I  received an email from a friend regarding my strawberry post of May 12

He and I have talked strawberries on several occasions and I had mentioned to him about renewing the bed every 3 or 4 years.

After reading my post, he wrote that in talking to me previously he had “—gotten the idea that you had to move the bed somewhere else […]

Residual Herbicides in Compost Part 2: On Grow Mix, Potting Mix, Compost, Manure, & Mulch

If you are just joining me and have not read the first part, please read through Part 1 to gain a more complete picture of what is being discussed.

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As I mentioned at the end of Part 1, my friend was ready to throw in the towel and not buy anymore potting soil and/or grow mix, compost or mulch.

And I must admit that in this day and age it is difficult to find products suitable for organic gardening, but they are out there.

Below are 3 points I think you will find helpful:

  • OMRI Listed – A Visible Indication of Product Suitability –   Organic Materials Review Institute is a non-profit organization that evaluates products for the organic industry. If the product you are looking at is marked “OMRI Listed” it has been reviewed and is consistent with the requirements of the National Organic Standard.

“OMRI Listed” is indeed a excellent indication of product suitability, but remember something very important when you are buying anything —–read more—-

Residual Herbicides in Composts - Part 1

Our area is rural and as I have mentioned before, anyone using organic practices here is in a small minority.  Farmers spray the surrounding fields with herbicides and results can be seen by almost anyone paying attention.  A friend who lives within a few miles of us said, “Around the edges of the field where the spray isn’t concentrated enough to kill the weeds it causes the normally straight stems to grow in a corkscrew spiral.”

Even more alarmingly, he had seen this same symptom on a tomato that he had grown with purchased potting soil and/or compost. And then, to top it off, he saw a program reporting on the growing problem of residual herbicides in compost. Upsetting to say the least.

More About the Problem —–read more—-

Mulching Your Fruits, Vegetables, and Perennials


April 10

Some folks have told me they don’t have an understanding of how to mulch certain vegetable beds.  They reason that the newly emerged vegetables will be mashed by the mulch.

Using crops that are currently planted in my garden (or will be soon) as examples below, I’ve been more specific about just —–read more—-