[Market-farming] Mulch

Home Grown Kansas! hgkansas at sbcglobal.net
Thu Dec 6 18:45:08 EST 2007

What has worked well for myself in Kansas is Hairy Vetch (a legume) planted in the fall.  It can be mowed down for a thick cover of mulch and plant into it.  You can mix the vetch with wheat, red clover, etc., if you the vetch to climb.  Lots of info on the Internet using vetch as a cover crop.
  Wichita, KS
TxBeeFarmer <TxBeeFarmer at HotPop.com> wrote:

Actually, I do live close to Midland/Odessa. I'm north of Big Spring. The 
idea of planting clover sounds good - where can I get the kind of seeds 
you're talking about? When's the best time to plant it without irrigation? 
I've also thought of planting wheat and knocking it down as a mulch too, but 
not sure how to do that either, unless I get a no-till planter. But am 
thinking anything I grow and knock down won't be thick enough to do any 
good. As far as walkways, I only have skipped rows for a trailer to go 
down. Those are easy to mowed with the shredder or run down with an onion 
blade or disk. Really can't plant just the skip rows - only have a seed 
slinger for small seeds. Yes, I'd like to know of some local people who 
have straw bales.

TxBeeFarmer (Mark)
West Texas Zone 7b

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Steve Bridges" 
To: "'Market Farming'" 
Sent: Wednesday, December 05, 2007 10:05 PM
Subject: Re: [Market-farming] Mulch

> Howdy Mark, here's a couple of thoughts...
> On using hay, if you get what is commonly referred to as 'clean' hay, then
> it's highly likely that you'll be getting hay that was sprayed with a weed
> killer (Grazon, 2-4D, piclaram) that will stunt or kill your veggie plants
> when you plant into the hay. An easy way to discern if hay has been 
> sprayed
> is to grind some up, mix it half and half with potting soil and plant some
> bean seeds into a pot. If the bean seeds develop their second set of true
> leaves without curling or stunting then you'll know there is no herbicide 
> in
> the hay. Chances are this type of clean hay will not have a load of weed
> seeds in it...
> If you're getting hay that some farmers call 'organic' which is
> non-fertilized and neglected (organic by neglect, not Certified), then
> you're probably buying hay that will have several generations of weed 
> seeds
> in it. The few months of weed suppression you'll gain will not be worth 
> the
> years of newly inoculated weed seeds that you'll have to deal with.
> Being in West Texas, chances are you might be able to find a farmer that
> bales his wheat straw, which makes an excellent mulch and is going to have
> far fewer weed seeds in it than hay. If you're around the Midland/Odessa
> area I can guide you to a few farmers that even have Certified Organic 
> wheat
> straw for sale.
> I would suggest that you check out a book called Lasagna Gardening for 
> tips
> on how to plant into a layered, or mulched bed. See
> http://www.motherearthnews.com/Organic-Gardening/1999-04-01/Lasagna-Gardenin
> g.aspx It's gardening, but lots of good tips and growth for organic
> agriculture have come from organic horticulture.
> One thing that you might try is using a long season clover to plant in the
> walkways to keep the weeds down. In a field trial of 29 different cover
> crops last year I found that red and strawberry clovers keep even Johnson
> grass from returning in the summer. These were huge trials of each 
> variety,
> 40x800 feet, but where we had these clovers planted there was very little
> weed pressure all the way through the following summer. This year I'm
> trialing this as between-row plantings in cellulose and plastic mulched 
> beds
> to see if it will keep Bermuda and Johnson grass at bay. Also, I've rowed 
> up
> my beds for next years corn, planted these clovers and will strip-till to
> plant the corn next year. I'm thinking that it's going to work judging 
> from
> what I saw in the trials last year...
> Another thought is that, if you've got the land, you can grow your own 
> mulch
> crops such as a fast growing sudan, that you can cut and bale 2-3 times,
> before it goes to seed, then you don't have to worry about what you might 
> be
> bringing in from another farm.
> ~
> Weeds be suppressed,,,never gone!
> ~~~~~~~~~~
> Steve Bridges
> Texas farmer
> -----Original Message-----
> From: market-farming-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
> [mailto:market-farming-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of TxBeeFarmer
> Sent: Monday, December 03, 2007 9:45 AM
> To: Market Farming
> Subject: [Market-farming] Mulch
> I'd like to try putting down mulch over my garden to reduce weeds and help
> the soil. It's about 3 acres, but I'm really not sure how to get it done.
> Also not sure how to plant a garden on it.
> Let me explain a little about my location, the soil, and how the garden is
> taken care of now. It's in west Texas with a rainfall of approx. 17
> inches/yr. with very little or no irrigation because the water must be
> hauled in. The soil is a sandy loam that tends to develop "hard pan" if 
> not
> plowed. So, each Winter the stalk residue is shred down and disked 
> lightly
> to turn everything under. In the spring, it's deep disked, then plowed to
> create 36 inches rows. Planting is done with a 4 row buster planter on 
> the
> bed. Weeds are either hoed or plowed using knives or sweeps.
> The only mulches available are large round bales of oats, hay grazer, red
> top cane, alfalfa, or similar. It's not practical for me to get mulch 
> from
> town. I don't have a dump truck and they don't deliver.
> So it looks like hay is my only choice.
> But, how can it be put down and how do you avoid growing a field of 
> whatever
> kind of hay is put down? And how do you get it down? Should I disk 
> before
> putting the mulch down? Should the mulch go down in the Fall or in the
> Spring? How deep should it be? How can I make rows and plant without
> covering up the mulch? Should I row it up, put the mulch down, then 
> plant?
> As you can see, I'm having trouble understanding how this is done? Seems
> the devil is in the details.
> Perhaps I'm looking at this all wrong. Need some help here folks.
> Thanks for your help.
> TxBeeFarmer (Mark)
> West Texas Zone 7b
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