GRASSED UP – EXTREME MULCHING

The final grab of fertility from the hay meadow this year is the last run over with the mower which has kept Nigel busy. He beetles up the field with barrows full of fresh grass clippings and we dump them straight onto the vegetable plot.

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Grass clippings mulching over onion and garlic beds

Today I shoved in 20 garlic cloves (variety ‘Solent White’ ) and 40  onion sets (variety ‘Radar’) and on top of them we dropped a 4-inch deep layer of grass clippings . This forms a mulch which will feed the soil, suppress weeds and protect the soil over winter. The onions and garlic will love being under the blanket, growing their little sharp sprouts through it in a few weeks time, and next July we should get bumper crops of substantial bulbs.

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Small perpetual spinach plants get mulched

Then we mulched the little kale and perpetual spinach plants which will give massive leafy crops in the spring – they are the most productive and reliable crops we grow.

This sort of enthusiasm for extreme mulching may seem weird for folks who are new to Permaculture or organic gardening. The secret of growing good crops is to feed and protect the soil, and a mulch does just that. What we are actually feeding is the soil life – it is a living system of invertebrate animals, and a vast myriad of microorganisms which are all working away underground. Those chopped up leaves you can see in the grass clippings will have vanished beneath the soil in a few weeks time, eaten up by the happy, hungry earthworms.

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‘Cut and come again’ celery

Lastly the celery with which I am really pleased, got a mulch of cut grass. I have never had much success growing celery before, but this year has it has been remarkable. I sowed the seed in my heated greenhouse in February and put out 7 plants, keeping them well watered and mulched with compost. I have been able to cut celery all summer and just slice the sticks off 1cm above ground level leaving the stumps in. These are now re-growing beautifully with more sticks and I hope if I cover them with fleece it might go on over the winter. That is ‘supercelery’ or is it ‘soupercelery’?!

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