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Creating Mulch for the Native Garden

Wednesday, September 02, 2020

The native hedge garden was planted about 6 months ago. A friend's neighbour was putting in a new driveway through a forest and was going to be flattening all the plants. I dug out all of the ferns over a few days and planted them as soon as I got them home. Some other plants I had started from cuttings were tucked in to fill the space. The corner has five Nootka rose bushes. I purchased three one year old nine bark shrubs because what I really wanted was sold out. Nine cuttings from butterfly bushes four from native honeysuckle and a red current were started in the spring and will be added once the rains start. I have gathered seeds of fawn lily, foxglove, tiger lily, camas, and columbine to scatter between the larger plants.

Last fall I started the gathering of items needed to make mulch. A neighbour up the street have three ponies, and were giving away their manure. The first thing I did was construct compost bins out of used palettes, Once they were in place, it was just a matter of pushing the wheelbarrow have a kilometre up the street, filling it and bringing the manure home.

I layered the manure with raked leaves and grass clippings. It didn't take too long before the first bin was full. I watered each layer and added a tarp to help keep the heat in.

By now all neighbours wondered what I was doing, and I was offered more free manure from another neighbour who has one horse and boards a second one. These two produced a full wheelbarrow full of nuggets every day. I didn't have to load this as their horse-nut daughter did it every day as part of her chores. Bonus - it was way closer for pushing the wheelbarrow!

I ran out of leaves and grass clippings for layering really fast, but was able to rake up two other neighbours yard of maple and oak leaves. I made a huge pile in the vegetable garden. Once everything was harvested, lay down a layer of leaves about a foot deep. This kept the weeds from germinating over the winter.

I gathered up more pallets and ending up with eight of them full. Now most of them are half full - the worms and bacteria have turned the horse nuggets and leaves in to compost!

Palette compost bin that I've been using for composting

Sifter for removing rocks out of the top soil

Dried grass clipping and leaves

Composted manure etc...

Mixed manure and dried grass clippings mixed by hand

Sifting the soil onto the manure mix by hand

Mixing the soil and compost mix together by hand

Final product ready to place around the plants using a shovel

Close up of happy plants

Garden along the bottom fence line

It has taken a few days to get this much done, mixing by hand each step of the way. I have a few butterfly bush plants that I want to tuck into empty spaces where the squirrels dug and killed the first planting.

The four bins in the vegetable garden will be dug and tossed straight onto the garden bed. The leaves and grass clippings will be layered on top of that. Not sure if I will have time to get it tilled before winter sets in or not. Hoping to get my tiller into the shop and fixed before the rains come.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    46 days ago
    Wow did you build those pallet bins yourself? They are so cool! I need to learn how to build...there are so many things I want to make. I do know that gardens LOVE horse manure so I'm sure all your work will pay off next growing season. My mom had a row of beets that just weren't thriving earlier this year and she made some "tea" for them out of horse dung and water. A couple weeks later they were huge and happy. It pays to have neighbors with horses and most are more than happy to deliver their fertilizer. Great job on your compost bins!

    46 days ago
    I'm totally envious of such a wonderful organic compost/mulch/dressing for your plants emoticon There's NOTHING better than that for the plants. My hubs does something similar and what a change!
    emoticon emoticon What satisfaction! Love the pics of the process. Brilliant!
    46 days ago
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