in-form-a-tion (mulch)

SueCasson at SueCasson at
Sat Mar 22 13:33:15 EST 1997

Hello from the drift plain in northern Illinois: 

I'd like to thank this list for inspiration and information over the winter
regarding no tilling, mulching and it's effect on the soil. I had (on the
faith of reading books) sheet mulched my garden last summer, and left it on
over the winter, much to the friendly amusement of my till-scrape-10-10-10
neighbors. I pulled no roots (except for the ones I ate of course) and left
the tops of the tomatoes etc. just be. Just threw some mulch over them. 

I pulled the mulch back on to the aisles this week to let the soil warm and
what did I behold...... black fluffy soil, self-seeding chervil, many of the
allium family popping up, yarrow, oregano, sage, tarragon, tansy, rue and the
other perennials safe as can be. (Local knowledge says p. herbs will not

I planted several kinds of greens in one of the beds on a sunny 70 degree
mid-day. I knew that by night it would be 20-30 degrees, so I just popped
some mulch from the aisles over the herbs.

The birds are out there grubbing around for me. The worms are tilling for me.
And you'all are learnin' me. Now I have time, (since there is just not much
to do) to learn more, experiment more. Buckwheat really paid off last year
for soil tilth. I'm going to start a small handfull of seeds every week or
so, keep track of the temps, to see when I get germination. 

I also need to address inputs of mulch.  I used a combo of my oak leaves from
the site and slightly spoiled hay from off site mostly. Does anyone anyone
know about growing small amounts of alphalfa, like 100 square feet, or even
1000. (My garden is 4500 square feet, and I do share some of it with neighbor
children, who are learning to garden. There are three in my household to
feed, plus we always have extra to give away. One of my gardening partners (7
yrs) and I sell some of the extra at a weekly farmer's market, tho we end up
spending as much as we make and trading too. The payoff there is social. It's
just fun.  Is growing a small amount of hay worth it? I know I can get three
cuts off of it. How much hay would I get per/? And does it die at winter so I
don't have to till, or is it perennial?

Particular thanks to Jack Rowe, Dan H. of Elfin/Yankee PC, Mark Ludwig and
the Cross Timbers Home page.        - Sue

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