It is so good to be back! My sabbatical this past season from blogging was such a relief as I was required for other duties related to launching Cool Flowers during the farming harvest season. Now that I have hung up my harvesting shears for a few months—I am happy to get back to sharing what is going on our farm.
The most excitement going on around here lately is the truck load after truck load of leaves been brought to the farm to mulch our pathways. This annual chore of mulching our fall-planted garden is labor intensive for about two to three weeks but we reap the benefits for the life of the garden. Our beds and pathways are about 110 feet long, we have 32 beds planted which makes 64 pathways to mulch—whew, lots of leaves!About 20 good size bags for each pathway.
We mulch the pathways 12” or more deep—this makes it virtually impossible for a weed to sprout. Weed suppression is the most obvious advantage but there are far more that are vital to the organic function and low maintenance of our farm. Moisture retention is another huge benefit.
How it all works for the good of the farm:
- We mulch pathways as soon after making beds in fall or early spring as possible to prevent weeds from getting a start.
- We only use bagged leaves—so easy to drag or carry to where you need them. (FYI: this rescues them from the landfill. Bagged leaves cannot be composted by most cities and counties.)
- Mulch deeply to prevent having to top off mulch later in the season. Leaves are free and usually available in abundance—don’t skimp.
- Beds are planted and harvested throughout the season as usually with no maintenance needed in pathways (huge benefit!)
- Flowers and vegetables are stripped of excess foliage while harvesting, dropping the greenery in the pathways.
- All season we are walking on this amazing “organic lasagna” we are creating, breaking down the leaves and basically pulverizing it all as we work.
- When a bed has reached the end of its usefulness, we remove any flower support netting, mow the crop, and pullup any irrigation tape up.
- To work the organic matter into the soil we plowand/ or till the garden—pathways, beds and all adding tons of organic matter.
- Let the garden digest the matter for 2 to 6 weeks –depending on the weather, soil type, and the crop mowed to start all over again—making beds, planting and so forth.
This practice has built our soil into what it is today. The very best part of all of this for me? Walking my little farm all winter and early spring admiring these beautiful pathways knowing what that offer and the life they bring to my garden. The other benefits of all this organic mulch? When your soil is covered and insulated with organic mulch, it brings the earthworms and billions of his microbe friends closer to the soil surface to work.
All winter while you watch from the window— there is a whole lot going on out there beneath that blanket of leaves. So, go ahead and rescue a few bags—but don’t come in my neighborhood, it might launch a new realty show: Bag Wars!