Weeding and watering are a big part of growing your own fruits and vegetables. But wouldn’t it be nice to spend less time weeding, and more time enjoying the fresh produce? I want to share a tip that we are using this summer. We are actually doing this because our crotchety rototiller decided that no amount of persuation was going to compel it to run this year. No tiller means more good old-fashioned hoe-and-hand weeding.
So I thought it would be good to try mulching the garden again this year. I think my mom was the first person I learned this tip from. Although, I would love to know why she did not employ this tip herself when I was a kid. I guess having kids equals free labor. I have memories of working in her garden in the hot sun, fighting miserable clouds of gnats.
Anyway, to mulch your garden and hopefully decrease the growth of weeds, all you really need is newspaper and straw. I do not get a daily paper, so I had to find a source for this. The surgery center that I work at receives a daily paper that used to get thrown out at the end of the day. I checked with the receptionist to see if they could save them for me. But she said another nurse was already claiming them to read. So I talked to my co-worker who agreed to pass them on to me when she was finished. She also very kindly collected me a stack from a friend of hers. So check with friends, neighbors, and co-workers if you don’t have newspaper already. Most people are happy to help.
To get our straw, Wade stopped by a local farmer who sold it to him for $2 a bale. This was cheaper than the straw we had purchased at the local feed mill last year for our pig pen. Another option that we have used and is free, is to bag the grass clippings when mowing the grass. The clippings can be used instead of straw.
Now you are ready to mulch! It’s easier if it’s done as two-person job. One person lays the newspaper, and the other follows along with the straw. If you have enough newspaper, lay it at least two layers thick, and try to overlap the pieces. I also advise picking a day that isn’t very windy…not that I would know from personal experience or anything! Try to be generous with the straw as well. We have had trouble with weeds still wanting to come thru the paper, and I think laying thicker newspaper and straw might help.
I also recommend wetting down all the paper and straw with the garden hose when you are finished. This will help keep it from blowing away, and having newspaper all over your yard
if when a breeze starts. It really is annoying, and defeats the purpose, if the newspaper won’t stay in place!
Once you finish hosing it all, the job is complete. Now you can spend less time weeding the garden, plus the straw and paper can hold in more moisture for your plants too. Instead you can sit in the shade with a glass of lemonade, and enjoy how pretty the garden looks!