Hum and Falling Apple Charitable Trust
People before profit


May 19, 2018
 

Our Mulch Experiment: Stop the weeds and Feed the plants

We love to experiment and try new approaches to things!

Our recent experiment was a year long one. Our backyard and garden is large and the soil mineral rich, we manage to grow supersized veges but the weeds are equally energetic. We needed a solution to prevent their growth while enriching the soil.

We managed to find a solution that works, it requires annual placement of organic mulch (from a wood chipper – not bark) over the garden areas, 10cm deep no less.   Central Landscape Solutions in Avondale provided us the organic material for our experiment.  Thanks guys!

Approach

We started doing some research with these key objectives in mind;

  1. Keep the weeds at bay
  2. Feed the garden at the same time
  3. An organic (non-chemical) approach
  4. Improve the overall aesthetic

After chatting to a few people, reading some articles and watching this documentary,  ‘Back to Eden‘ (a good watch), we decided we wanted to try out some of Paul Gautschi’s thoughts on our garden.  The main idea is to annually put organic mulch from a wood-chipper onto your garden replicating the effect of the forest floor.  There, weeds don’t grow and the trees are feed nutrients from the decaying debris that falls.

We had also read that the depth of the mulch was crucial.  It would need to be no less than 10cm deep.   We would not be laying down any plastic base or ground cover to keep the weeds at bay, as we wanted the soil to be fed as part of the process, thus depth of mulch was essential.

We contacted Neil and Tony from  Central Landscape Solutions in Avondale who have historically aided the communities efforts.  They turned up with approximately 13.7 cubic metres of mulch without a blink of an eye.

We proceeded to weed and disperse the mulch leaving a shallow ring around trees and plants (to prevent rot).

Outcome

  • After a week we noted that in some pocket areas weeds began to pop up.  Taking a closer look we found that the mulch was under 10cm deep in these areas.  We went around with a ruler and topped up the mulch to make sure the mulch was deep enough.
  • Once the mulch was applied everywhere we had no problems with weeds for a whole year
  • The mulch must be applied annually, a year has passed now and the weeds have begun to come back through the mulch in full force…I’ll be ringing Tony and Neil this week for more mulch.

Approach Summary

So our recommended approach for preventing weeds and feeding the soil is;

  1. Measure the area you want to cover (minimum 10 cm deep) with mulch
  2. Use organic mulch straight from a wood-chipper  Central Landscape Solutions in Avondale provide some nice moist material.  The cuttings are variable sizes staying true to the composition of a forest floor, allowing different bits to decompose at different rates.
  3. Prep the garden by digging up all weeds from the root where possible
  4. Lay out the mulch, ensuring that in every place there is no less than 10cm of mulch
  5. Create a small ring around base of your existing plants and go a little shallower there so you don’t allow rot to set in killing your plants
  6. Sit back and relax – you won’t need to weed for a year. On top of that you are re-energising your soil so that your plants remain chemical free and get necessary nutrients to pass on to you when you eat them.  Hooray!

Well worth the effort!