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What do you use for mulch in your SFG? Toplef10What do you use for mulch in your SFG? 1zd3ho10

Hello Guest!
Welcome to the official Square Foot Gardening Forum.
There's lots to learn here by reading as a guest. However, if you become a member (it's free, ad free and spam-free) you'll have access to our large vermiculite databases, our seed exchange spreadsheets, Mel's Mix calculator, and many more members' pictures in the Gallery. Enjoy.

What do you use for mulch in your SFG? I22gcj10What do you use for mulch in your SFG? 14dhcg10

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What do you use for mulch in your SFG?

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new2this
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What do you use for mulch in your SFG? Empty What do you use for mulch in your SFG?

Post  pattipan 3/30/2010, 11:03 am

I am curious to hear what others use for mulch in their SFG to help retain moisture.

Dry grass clippings and/or old hay are recommended by Mel in his book. I hesitate to use my grass clippings -- too many dandelion seeds!

What do you use for mulch?

TIA
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Post  chocolatepop 3/30/2010, 12:06 pm

mulch What do you use for mulch in your SFG? Icon_redface we're supposed to mulch What do you use for mulch in your SFG? Icon_eek
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Post  pattipan 3/30/2010, 12:52 pm

chocolatepop wrote:mulch What do you use for mulch in your SFG? Icon_redface we're supposed to mulch What do you use for mulch in your SFG? Icon_eek


Perhaps, I should have asked...Do you mulch? And if you do, what do you use? Mel's original book recommended it, but I can't find it in the new one. Hmmmm.

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Post  Retired Member 1 3/30/2010, 12:57 pm

In my last SFG veggie garden (the old method) I used cypress mulch but just on vining plants. It took about 2 years to break down into the soil. Upon reflection, I don't think I will use that for these raised beds (drat - I just purchased 2 bags!). But being in Texas, I know I will need something or I'll be watering three times a day. I think I will use grass clippings and just pull any weeds that might root -- lovely thing about raised beds.
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What do you use for mulch in your SFG? Empty Mulch

Post  nmplantlady 3/30/2010, 1:13 pm

While I don't necessarily have a fancy SFG laid out, I garden compactly and I use shredded paper. Once it's wet down, it doesn't move (great for windy areas) and takes a couple years to compost. It can also be mixed into the soil if turning it in the spring!

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Post  Lavender Debs 3/30/2010, 2:16 pm

This is my first SFG so take what I say as just so much jabber. In spring I mix equal parts alfalfa meal, bagged cow poo and compost (usually from a bag) I mix that together, sometimes with a sprinkle of D. Lime and spread it around my plants and roses about an inch thick. The recipe came from Seattle's Anne Lovejoy. I plan to use that around the plants in my winter garden box next spring with 1 part vermiculite and 1/2 part peat. In summer I like grass clippings because the worms like grass clippings. Occasionally I sprinkle organic corn meal on the soil THAN put on grass clippings, again because the worms like it.

I don't have maple or alder leaves anymore so I am not sure what I'll use in the fall.

Deborah ....good question, anxious to read what others do.
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What do you use for mulch in your SFG? Empty Mulch

Post  PB 3/30/2010, 4:22 pm

I have gardened for years. This is my first SFG though. I like to mulch with old newspapers. 6-8 layers deep. Only the printed pages, not the glossy sale papers. Then for appearances you can put some straw over that if you dont like the looks of the paper, but later in the season the plant will cover it.
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Post  camprn 3/30/2010, 4:28 pm

I've had success with coffee grounds and bark mulch in garden beds. I mulch primarily for moisture retention v. weed control. Wink


Last edited by camprn on 3/30/2010, 5:15 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post  granmum 3/30/2010, 5:06 pm

This is my fifth year SFGing and I have not used mulch. I don't think if you do the recommended soil mix that you need to mulch. I am in Virginia where it gets pretty hot and dry in the summer.
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Post  Mikesgardn 3/31/2010, 11:51 am

I haven't used mulch either, but I do have to water twice a day in the hot months. The density of the plantings seems to shade the ground pretty well.
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Post  pattipan 3/31/2010, 1:19 pm

Mikesgardn wrote:I haven't used mulch either, but I do have to water twice a day in the hot months. The density of the plantings seems to shade the ground pretty well.


I usually have to water twice a day too in hot months, especially the tomatoes. Just thought I could help the plants and conserve water if I mulched around some of the plants.

I'm thinking I might try shredded newspaper mixed with some coffee grounds (so it will match the dirt). I do have a paper shredder. :)

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Post  MidTNJasonF 4/1/2010, 8:18 pm

I did not mulch the first year but as I closed down things for winter last year I spread one square bale of hay over my four 4'x4' boxes. I did it just to help with weed control and maybe to protect my mix from being pounded by winter rains and snow. I did notice that even after a number of dry days here in the 70's and 80's my mix was nice and moist under the mulch when planting today.
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What do you use for mulch in your SFG? Empty Hardwood

Post  Bayou Life 4/3/2010, 10:56 pm

Last year in my raised beds (pre-SFG), I used hardwood mulch from Lowe's I believe it was. It started to break down in the box. After the season was over, I threw it in the compost. It broke down even faster there. I'll probably use the same thing this season. The boxes warm up pretty quick here, so I need it to keep the soil temp regulated.
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Post  chickenman2 4/4/2010, 8:33 am

i tried old newspaper once. Lets just say it was a total disaster and leave it at that. Also code enforcement was to not happy with it either, to the tune of a warning of $150 fine per day. lets just say new paper has tendency to move and not stay flat.
If there is worse mulching material I have not found it yet and don't plan on trying.
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Post  camprn 4/4/2010, 8:41 am

In the flower gardens I have used bark mulch that was semi composted. I like it because in the autumn it tends to separate and lift off the beds quite well, and the bit thats left just gets incorporated in the soil.
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Post  cliftyman 4/7/2010, 4:19 pm

I'm using fresh grass clippings.... I am a little worried about seeds (dandelions and other weeds) too but I think if you mow your yard pretty regularly and you cut the dandelion before it goes to seed you'll be fine.

The only way you are getting seeds in with those grass clippings is if you get the root of the grass/weeds (and only certain grasses, weeds will reproduce from the root) or the plant produces a seed head before you mow it down.

When I mow in spring my fescue is neon green.... I would think its loaded with nitrogen at that point so I try to get it on my plants immediately after mowing it down... its worked well in the past and I hardly have any weeds at all grow up out of this mulch.

Another good mulch would be leaf litter from the previous year if you have a lot of trees in the yard.... get a electric/gas powered leaf shredder vac and run your leaves through it... it'll chop them up into tiny smaller than dime sized pieces... if you can stash them in a pile in the corner of the yard they'll make excellent mulch the second year.

If neighbors offer leaf/grass trimmings to you make sure they aren't using pesticides... that can destroy your hard work in an instant.
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Post  junequilt 4/8/2010, 6:45 pm

Chickenman2, I've used newspaper as mulch for 40 years, but it does have to be covered with something. Straw, chopped leaves, grass clippings -- all are excellent covers. Over the course of a growing season it all becomes part of the soil. Of course, we're talking in-ground here, not SF.

We plan to mulch our tomatoes with red plastic plus tomato watering tray gizmos. This sounds like overkill, but every summer we fight an insidious disease that starts on the lower leaves and works its fell way up the plant. The plants are strong and healthy until the first rain after the really hot, humid summer weather sets in, and from that point on, they are diseased and gradually weaken and die. So we're covering the soil completely and will be watering very carefully via the trays. I'll probably use some organic spray as well. What works best for others, I wonder? But maybe that's a different topic.

I'd like to experiment with various mulches on the rest of the beds (did I mention that there are four -- brand new -- gorgeous -- just installed yesterday?) and see what works best.
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Post  quiltbea 4/8/2010, 7:18 pm

I use both newspaper strips that I hold down with bits of soil.... and also grass clippings. I let the clippings dry out and get brown before I use them to be sure there are no seeds to take root. I take a scissors and clip the longer grasses shorter before laying them around my plants. I don't want them to compact too much.
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What do you use for mulch in your SFG? Empty A novel solution to the mulch question

Post  duckycards 4/26/2010, 5:14 pm

For a novel (and humorous) solution to "what should I use for mulch in my SFG?" check out this post in the Southwest Desert Region Forum:

https://squarefoot.forumotion.com/southwestern-deserts-f17/what-to-use-for-mulch-in-south-west-desert-t1614.htm#11316
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Post  new2this 4/27/2010, 8:25 am

Heehee...good point
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Post  martha 4/27/2010, 3:03 pm

I did enjoy that link, but I have found that the dirt on the top of my boxes does get crusty. Did I get the recipe wrong last year? What do you use for mulch in your SFG? Icon_redface
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Post  TheJH 4/28/2010, 8:59 am

I mulch with shredded pinebark that i get for $30 a truck load.
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Post  Odd Duck 4/28/2010, 12:31 pm

I mulch with compost. It was recommended to me by a garden advisor I trust and it works very well. You're going to top off the bed/square with compost anyway, right? Why not put some on early as mulch? I usually am adding even more before I replant a square, anyway. For longer season crops, the box goes down quite a bit, even with mulching with compost.

Everyone please remember, I'm dealing with very new soil mix that ISN'T Mel's mix since I set up my beds before I found the new book or the website.
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What do you use for mulch in your SFG? Empty Poor dandelions :(

Post  miinva 5/1/2010, 1:44 pm

I know this isn't on topic, but I cringe when I hear people maligning dandelions. Pollinators love them and they really aren't as horrific as people make them out to be. I purposely let ours go to seed because I love pollinators Smile

I found this thread because we've been talking about mulching this year. Last year was our first year and in the heat of summer the soil definitely heated up hot and things started to struggle, so we're going to give mulching a try this year. I don't have grass clippings or leaves to use this year (darn it!), although I have a few fine needles. We might try some newspaper with something else on top, I can't decide Smile
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