Worlds Best Mulch

As promisedworlds best mulch, a post about the best mulch we have ever used. If you haven’t already guessed it from previous pictures, we use both shredded and whole leaves in our mulching program. It is free, easy to handle, free, effective, aromatic, free. It also happens to be free, which just happens to be my favorite word today.

When we first started our garden, the place was all grass and hard clay soil. To be kind, it looked like crap. Little was growing and digging plants in was just about the worst experience I have ever had. We killed the grass with newspaper and mulched over that with wood chips. This looked nice and effectively killed the grass, but did little to improve soil quality. After a year, the plants were growing well in the xeriscape and the newspaper was doing its job, but under the newpaper we still had hard dense clay, blech.

I had long been reading numerous gardening gurus extolling the virtues of shredded leaf mulch as both a mulch and soil conditioner. The idea was that local arthropods, worm, fungi, bacteria, and other sundry soil creatures would process the mulch far quicker than they would work on wood chips. You would need more leaves to keep up, but in the end the decomposed duff would find its way into the first few inches of soil and work its magic for your planties.

So last fall, plagued with unemployment boredom, I set out to give it try. I donned my urban camo, pulled the license plates off of my truck, got myself some mirrored sunglasses, and set out upon my neighborhood every Tuesday and Friday; yep, you guessed it, trash day. I would covertly idle into the nicer streets in my hood and pilfer bags of leaves. What’s that, you think I’m nuts? Well stranger, you don’t know the half of it. I would pile the bags high in my garage (I should note this pile was somewhat visible to the public, much to my wife’s chagrin) and slowly work on getting them into the garden.

best mulch“But teacher, how do you shred leaves?”

With a homemade shredder, free I might add. So I took my garbage can (Yay multi-use items) and modded my weed whacker with one of those crazy narly torture like devices you bolt on in place of the line spool. It had 3 blades that whir around and make you worry about your eyes, so yes, wear protection. Leaves go into garbage can, shredder comes to life, lid with hole cut in it goes on, and several minutes and a rather imposing dust cloud later (neighbors love me) you have shredded leaf mulch. This goes out to the garden, compost pile, or another receptacle for later use. Wash rinse repeat ad infinitum.

I piled this sh*t high, sometimes a foot thick. At times I would skip the shredding and just pile leaves around my xeriscape. Neighbors looked on with worry. Did he lose it? Did he ever have it to begin with? Conjecture flowed about like hot butter on a pancake. Weeks came and went as I kept toiling away with my weed whacker stuck in a trash can moving up and down like I was operating some sort of butter churn out of the twilight zone (doo dee doo doo, doo dee doo doo).

So the results, you ask? Phe effing nomenal!!! They say a healthy soil will have six or so red wrigglers per full spade of soil. Well, just moving the mulch aside and exposing the soil surface will reveal that many earthworms. Dig a bit, not with your spade silly, with your fingers, and you would find a veritable worm orgy, or schmorgisborg; well hell, let’s just make a new term here: a worm schmorgisb-orgy. Notice how I wrote you no longer need a shovel. That’s right, you can condition hard clay soil in just a few months sans tiller, with just a little bit of ingenuity, and a heaping pantload of perceived insanity.

What was an eight ft by twenty foot by eight ft tall pile of leaf bags (lovingly referred to as OPBL: other people’s bagged leaves) has now dwindled down to just a dozen or so bags, just enough, I presume, to last the summer until the next scavenger season begins anew. Susie has stopped stressing about the pile of bags and now extols the virtues of my practice herself. Neadless to say we were both amazed and have been enjoying the results so far.

But lets get back to economics class for just a second. All my equipment was free or repurposed, so no additional cost and I figure I used about two gallons of gas embarrassing myself around my hood. Wood chip mulch costs between a clam and a half and several pelts a bag at the local big box. In the past, i.e. the first year here, we spent around $60 on mulch a year. Not really all that much savings until you compare how the two methods stack up.

The wood mulch broke down some, but generally just covered the soil. We still have some mulch from those first bags, albeit mostly crumbs now, but still there. The pine bark didn’t break down at all and the clay under it may as well be fired pottery. When you dig a plant in, some of the wood gets mixed into the soil and causes nitrogen shortages as it breaks down, leading you to have to coddle along a yellow plant until the wood breaks down in the soil. The leaves don’t act like this. They break down fast and feed the beneficial critters along the way, leaving a layer of black, loamy, crumbly duff that gets churned into the soil by the critters. This leaves the hipster gardener with several inches of heavily amended soil chompin’ at the bit to grow him some fine veggie goodness. This duff, tho high in carbon, won’t tie up nitrogen like the mixed in mulch because it has already done so as it was breaking down, just above the soil surface where nitrogen is abundant, read in the air.

It’s hard to place an intrinsic value on my leaf mulch since there is no retail based analog to compare to. Wood mulch just plain sucks unless you are bringing in a lot of compost for your soil, so more added cost there too. But I hear you all clamoring for a figure, so ok. I value my mulch practice at (Dun Dun DUUUUNNN) ONE MILLION DOLLARS!!! There, you happy?

I hope this will get my readers off of wood chip mulch as soon as fall comes. The aesthetics are similar, but the results are just too good to be true, until it is true, and then it is oh so good.

Thanks for reading, back to the garden to say hello to my wriggly friends.


Today We Dry Basil

basil1This stuff is always a treat during the wintertime. It is great in soups. We shoot for having several jars of dried basil before the first frosts take out the plants. This year we will exceed that and have plenty to spare. So for now we are going to have to eat plenty of pesto and let the rabbits have the rest. Oh yeah, rabbits LOVE basil. Of all we feed them from the garden, they will hit the basil first. Over carrots even.

Basil is just one of those plants everyone should grow. You don’t need much space, soil, water, nutrients, etc. It just grows. As easy as it is to grow I am continually astounded by the prices our grocers charge for fresh basil. It boggles the mind when you feed 20 bucks (super overpriced grocery value) worth of basil to the bunnies. If you have sunlight, soil, or even a pot, grow basil.

Where to Find the Best Hot Tubs or Spas in Greene IA 50636

Picking Up The Finest Hot Tub Spa Brands Greene IA 50636 To Satisfy Your Purposes

The trick to the perfect hot tub in Greene IA 50636 is to know exactly what you want and need, and then put in the time to research which hot tub or spa specification is right for your needs.

If you are in the market for a new hot tub or spa for your pad in Greene IA 50636 you need to ensure you make the select the right one. With so many different models and name brands to select from in Greene IA, you will want to make sure that you do your homework before you purchase anything as it will be a big asset for many years .

In our hot tub and spa Greene IA review we will show you the top models that are out along with a wide range of prices so that you can find one that fits your needs and budget.
Hot tubs or spas are high end home items. Their price can be anything from several hundred to several thousand bucks. Picking the wrong spa or hot tub is something that you want to avoid at all costs. Knowing what features to consider when out shopping for one, will help you make the right purchase decision.

First, decide whether you want a hard shell hot tub or spa or an inflatable one. Inflatable hot tubs or spas tend weigh about 100 pounds and be portable. Portability is helpful when moving from one address to another or when the spa or hot tub needs to be moved within the property, as would have to happen because of a weather or season change.

If you buy a hard shell hot tub or spa, make sure that the shell has no faults. Fiberglass or solid foam offer better durability and insulation. The most desirable hot tubs have a high level of UV resistance which makes them more resistant to adverse weather conditions.

Above-ground spas should have a cabinet that is low maintenance and aesthetically pleasing. Cabinets are generally made of wood or wood imitation material. The walls of the cabinet should be easily removable for fast servicing and the frame construction in the interior should be adequate.

All outdoor spa hot tubs have heaters that range in power from 1.5 to 11.5 kilo Watts. The more powerful the heater, the faster it will heat up the water, but also the more energy it will consume. Look for heaters with elements that wrap around the water pipes as these are considered safer.

The number, configuration and type of seats is another important feature. There should be adequate seating for everyone who plans to use the hot tub. In addition, the control panel should be easily reachable from one or more seats. Experts generally recommend to actually sit in the hot tub in order to check the water depth and the leg room it provides. Bring a bathing suit in case the option to dip in a running spa or hot tub, prior to purchase, is being offered by the store you have visited.

Jets are another important specification, spas can have from a single jet to more than one hundred. If you are planning to use the hot tub or spa for therapeutic reasons, the jets should be placed in adequate locations to massage your back and other body parts. The jet tub action should also be adjustable either by rotating the water jet itself or by programming or controlling the spas or hot tubs controls.

Most indoor hot tubs use cartridge filters that require hosing out about once every 30 days or so. The pump should be easy to access in case of troubleshooting. Its noise level should be at tolerable levels so that complaints from neighbors are avoided. Its location within the hot tub or spa is also important as it will impact the ease of cleaning.

Check how the outdoor spa hot tubs are insulated. Insulation often consists of a solid layer of rigid foam around the under-structure. Although this reduces noise, it often makes servicing more difficult. Layered insulation, on the other hand, although as effective at reducing noise levels, is also more convenient when the spa needs to be serviced.

Finally, do not purchase a outdoor spas  that does not include a cover. Covers, in addition to keeping the water clean, are also a safety feature. A securely locking cover can offer the best protection for children and pets that may play around the hot tub area. Since covers can often weigh between 150 to 200 pounds, it is advised invest in a cover lifter as lifting a cover without this feature can be a cumbersome task.

Buying a spa in Greene IA 50636 is often as requiring as much thought as buying a car. It is important to consider comfort, economy and safety carefully, before settling on a particular brand and model.

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