Traditionally, making your own mulch is something you should do in Autumn; however, as this is the season for gardening, we’re going to discuss a very simple and eco-friendly way to create your own mulch for Spring and Summer. Not to say buying mulch is necessarily expensive, but making your own costs next to nothing.
A good base for making your own mulch is dead tree leaves, pine needles, and chipped tree limbs. Essentially, you simply designate an area of your yard to pile up these ingredients, making sure the leaves and tree limbs are in small pieces (allowing easier distribution when you go to spread it on your garden). Again, this yard debris is more commonly found in Autumn months, but if you have said debris in your yard at the moment, this is a good way to make use of the refuse. As the wood chips and leaves and pine needles rot, they will make a semi-moist and healthy mulch for your garden.
Speaking of rot, another method of creating your own mulch is to start a compost heap/bin. Composting is fantastic way to turn garbage into fertilizer. The only cost here is the initial purchase of a compost bin. You can of course simply create a compost pile and surround it with chicken wire, but then you’re stuck looking at it and smelling it. Obtain a compost bin, ideally one with a top loading lid and a turn crank. By having a lid you can drop in your food waste and not ever have to look at it or smell it. The turn crank allows you to turn over and mix the compost without the use of your hands or tools. Pretty well any food waste can be tossed into the compost bin with the exception of meat. In addition to kitchen waste, add to the mix any yard waste accumulated. An equal blend of wet and dry materials will ensure a lush fertilizer mix. Wet waste could include fruits and vegetables and grass clippings for example. Dry ingredients could include things like paper or nut shells or straw. To speed up the decomposition process you can also throw in some earthworms. It isn’t pretty, but these little miracle workers can nearly cut composting time in half. Then, to turn fertilizer into mulch, add a healthy dose of wood chips. If you don’t have a wood chipper, not to worry; as long as you can cut or break down tree branches into small enough bits to spread, how you do it is not as important.
Some tips on owning a composting bin: keep outdoors, near a kitchen door for easy access, and out of direct sunlight. Turn over the fertilizer/mulch roughly twice a week, but no less than once every two weeks. When the mulch is ready to spread, it should resemble traditional mulch. That is, the mulch should appear as a rich top soil with wood chips, is moist, not dry and crumbly and not sopping wet. If your mulch is too dry, simply add more wet waste. Conversely, if it’s too wet, add more dry waste. Then, when you get the desired consistency, spread it around your flower garden, and voila, you’re done.
What better way is there to clear your kitchen and yard of ugly waste, recycle it, and create something new and reusable? And if that weren’t enough, you’ll be helping your flowers and checkbook. As a an added bonus, the garbage bags you’ll be saving can serve a different purpose. Before spreading your composted mulch, lay down trash bags between your flowers and around trees, anywhere you don’t want weeds sprouting up. Because trash bags are plastic, they won’t disintegrate, and provide an excellent deterrent against weed growth via smothering. After applying the mulch, no one will even know the bags are there. Beautiful!