Mulch Production

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I have a growing forest of tagasaste seedlings climbing to the sky. I’ve recently repotted them into individual pots to encourage quicker growth. They are doing well and will eventually be a key part of our Phases of Abundance scenario for the new garden.

As summer approaches in the southern hemisphere the garden is drying out quickly and we are still a couple of weeks out from moving to the house – which means sorting out some method of watering the garden that is going to do the job in the meantime.

Presently I’m using prunings, cardboard and grass clippings to mulch patches of exposed sand in order to keep sand and dust moving about with the coastal wind. I really need to be planting out further potted plants but that is proving difficult at the moment with making the time – uninterrupted.

Time is of the essence however. So given the tagasaste are proving quick growers I am at least giving them the time and care they need on our balcony at home to ensure I have healthy plants for the eventual planting out on the block.

The various acacia species that we planted at the top of the block are starting to put on good growth which is encouraging.

I’ve heard various reasons for choosing plants and trees for creating mulch. Some prefer to opt for large, slow to decompose leaves. In our situation I am looking for diversity so that I benefit from as many characteristics of mulch producing plants and trees as possible. For example the tagasaste have small leaves which will fall often and break down quickly given their size. I can also used branches or prunings to create mulch that will take longer to break down. The other benefit is that they will hold their leaves over the drier parts of the year to at least give some shade to areas of soil in the garden – plus create some privacy from the back road.

Other characteristics of mulch producing plants and trees are:

  • They are easily propagated by division, cutting or seed.
  • They don’t produce seed, so they have a very low invasive potential.
  • They grow quickly, acting as pioneer species, and changing the micro-climate of the area around them.
  • They are easy to ‘chop and drop’ because they are herbaceous.
  • They hold their leaves throughout the dry season which help shade the soil during the hottest months of the year.
  • Ability to produce volumes of green matter and recover quickly from pruning, even benefiting from pruning.
  • I also like ours to be capable of feeding our livestock so they are also a back-up for feed supply.

 

7 thoughts on “Mulch Production

  1. I just wrote about cover crops, and the alternative of using pelargoniums (which we call geraniums). They are not as good as the more traditional cover crops, but they are pretty and easy to ‘plug’ from the stems of the other geraniums when they get cut down for winter.

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    • Hi Tony, Geraniums have been ‘thrust into the ground’ in various places because they take so well and thrive in the sand. Once established we can then break off pieces of stem and plant in other areas. Thanks for reminding me. We also use sugar cane, pepino, nasturtium (also as a great live mulch that can be taken down easily) and chilacayote vine – from which we also get a harvest.

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  2. Pingback: In Praise of Honeysuckle | Petit Paradis

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