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Wednesday, December 28, 2011
KNOL: Mulching Your Vegetable Garden With Grass Clippings
This entry is a copy from a KNOL I wrote found at Google. Google will be discontinuing the KNOL's platform and I am in the process of storing them on my blog. Please enjoy the article. I have about 50 coming over to this blog.
Grass clippings are probably one of the easiest resources to get to for your vegetable garden. You can start mulching your beds as soon as grass clipping are available. There are some things to keep in mind when using them. Things like seeds, chemicals and over doing it.
My YouTube Videos on Garden Mulching and Disease Prevention: I have over 50 garden videos. Why not join my YouTube Channel. Mulching with Grass Clippings Disease Prevention Pruning and Mulching Mulching Your Vegetable Garden With Grass Clippings
by Gary Pilarchik, LCSW-C
What Does Mulching Do?
It prevents weeds from germinating and taking over.
It creates a barrier for soil born diseases.
It creates a barrier to keep the soil moist and it prevents evaporation. (saves on watering)
It provides your garden with organic matter to be turned into the bed at the end of the season.
It keeps you plants cleaner.
You Can't Use All Grass Clippings!
You want to use grass clippings that are free of chemicals and seed heads. There is no point in putting grass clippings in your gardens that have seeds either from the grass itself or from weeds like dandelion heads. You can tell by looking at your lawn. If you are cutting grass with seeds, compost it or trash it. It will grow back in a week and you can use that grass.
You don't want to use grass that has been sprayed with weed killers, preventatives or other chemicals. You should skip using the next cutting as mulch. There is no need to take a chance of putting chemicals into your garden beds that don't belong there. The chemicals can leach off the clippings or may still be active in the clippings.
Use Only Fresh Grass Clippings
This is pretty easy if you are cutting your own grass. I have taken neighbors clippings before with caution. You need to make sure they are good clean cuttings and they haven't been sitting in the trash bag for more then a few hours. Grass readily decomposes and if you get a hot decaying bag of grass for your garden... you will also get a good stink along with it. Fresh clippings work without a bad smell.
Sprinkle 2 to 3 Inches Of Grass Clippings
The difference between sifted flour and unsifted flour is air and fluffiness. You want the same for your grass clippings. Don't put more then 3 inches down and a time and make sure you gently drop the clippings and leave them. Don't tamp it down or press it down. Let is sit lightly on the garden. The key to using grass clippings is to allow them to brown and dry out. This is what you want for mulch. If you put to much down or press it down, you create a decaying pile that will brown on the top but yellow and decompose beneath. It will begin to smell and it can harbor insects.
Allow The Grass Clippings To Brown And Dry Out Before Adding More
You want all the grass to be browned and dried before you add another layer of green clippings. You may have to gently rake the clippings to expose the bottom grass. On warm sunny days this will occur in about 3 days. On hot days this can occur within 24 hours. Take a look at the clippings and when they are dry and brown, you can add more. Continue to add 2-3 inches at a time. You can stop this when you feel like you have a good layer of mulch. I usually stop at 4 inches of dried grass around my tomatoes and peppers.
Mulching Can Prevent Your Seeds From Reaching The Surface
I mulch my tomatoes and peppers to 4 inches as mention. They are already above the ground. People have put seeds in the ground and over mulched. The seeds don't come out of the ground. You can smoother them so to speak. If you put in squash seeds, cucumbers seeds or beans (as examples), only mulch with about a 1/4 inch of green grass. The goal is to make a thin layer of mulch to help with moisture. After the seeds germinate and are growing, you can add more clippings.
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