Organic Mulches

Almost any organic material will make a usable mulch (see Figure 3-14) if it provides some insulation and is porous enough to permit moisture and air to penetrate to the soil. Organic mulches have an almost immediate effect on the garden. Aeration is improved in clay soils, as is the water-retaining propensity of sandy soils. Organic material as it decomposes also plays an important role in soil granulation.

In addition to the standard products, many unusual and economical mulches such as rice hulls, are often available locally. To find the materials listed in Figure 3-14, check your nurseries, newspapers, stables, woodworking plants, and any type of fiber processing plant Many of the potential sources can be found simply by checking the telephone yellow pages. Writing the manufacturers listed on page 33 should get a list of local dealers for manufactured mulches. Rules for organic mulching:

  1. Apply fine organic materials at least 2 inches thick, coarse or fluffy materials should be 3 to 4 inches thick.
  2. Don't apply mulch to seedlings. In certain climates it may keep them too damp and promote rotting. Wait several weeks after setting out seedlings before using mulches.
  3. In general, keep mulch away from root crops; it may cause crown rot
  4. Watch out for insects. Mulch can provide a hiding place for bugs and other troublemakers.
  5. Don't apply a mulch until after the soil has warmed up.

Plastic Mulching

Over the past several years, agricultural experiment stations and manufacturers have conducted extensive research on the use of plastic (polyethylene) film, aluminum foils, brown asphalt paper, and a whole series of woven and perforated plastic films that allow penetration of air and water. Plastic mulch is excellent for crops that have trailing plants with fruit on the ground, such as melons, pumpkins, squash. Plastic is also good for peppers and eggplant It keeps down weeds and prevents the fruit from spoiling. Consider the following:

Ordinary polyethylene film: 1% mm thick, comes in rolls 3 to 6 feet wide. Clear plastic heats the soil about 10° F; black plastic 3 to 6 degrees. Use clear plastic to promote the early germination of cool-season crops. Black plastic is effective for accelerating the growth and increasing the yield of most warm-season crops. You can double the size of the plants in a given period by using black plastic. It can extend the seasons two to three weeks for such crops as tomatoes, eggplant and peppers. The problem with polyethylene is that it restricts the flow of air and traps moisture, which can promote disease and insect problems. As a result, many gardeners have tried and then abandoned it in favor of plastic mulches that allow air and water to penetrate.

Sky-blue plastic: Can be used to heat the soil in beds 5 to 8 degrees. It has the additional advantage of repelling some insects.

Ordinary kitchen foil: Increases light intensity, helping to grow vegetables in shady parts of your garden. Foil lowers the soil temperature about 10° F and helps keep lettuce from going to seed during hot weather. Experiments show that kitchen foil is an effective control against aphids because the insects seem to dislike light reflected under leaf surfaces.

Nonwoven polyester (or nonwoven polypropylene): Has good air and water penetration and can be cut with scissors. Both come in UV-resistant formulas.

Biodegradable paper: This thick, dark material holds down weeds for an entire season. Instead of removing it at the end of each garden year, work it into the soil.

Perforated plastic: Has small holes every inch or so allowing air and water to reach the soil easily. It only lasts one season unless you cover it with soil or gravel.

Woven plastic: Also allows air and water to penetrate. It can be used for several years.

Figure 3.15

AVERAGE PLANT FOOD CONTENT OF ORGANIC FERTILIZER MATERIALS

Organic Materials

%M

%P205

%K20

Availability

Acidity

Basic slag

8.0

quickly

alkaline

Bone meal

3.5

22.0

slowly

alkaline

Castor pomance

5.0

1.8

1.1

slowly

acid

Cocoa shell meal

2.5

1.0

2.5

slowly

neutral

Cotton seed meal

6.0

2.5

1.5

slowly

acid

Dried blood

12.0

1.5

0.8

moderately

acid

Fish meal

10.0

4.0

slowly

acid

Greer sand

1.0

6.0

very slowly

neutral

Ground rock phosphate

33.0

very slowly

alkaline

Guano

10.0

4.0

2.0

moderately

acid

Hone and hoof meal

12,0

2,0

moderately

neutral

Milorganite

6.0

2.5

moderately

neutral

Peat moss

1.5

0.25

slowly

acid

Seaweed

1.0

4,0-8.0

slowly

neutral

Sewage sludge

4.0

2.5

0.4

slowly

acid

Soybean meal

7.0

1.2

1.5

slowly

neutral

Wood ashes

2.0

4.0-10.0

quickly

alkaline

Shredder Wet

Tomahawk chipper/shredder

This powerful chipper handles branches up to 2 inches thick. The high speed shredder instantly pulverizes brush, twigs and leaves into a light, even-textured mulch and compost material Choice of 8, 5, and 2V.2 horsepower models. Optional bar grate available for shredding wet materials. GARDEN WAY MFG. 102nd St 8f 9th Ave. Troy, NY 12180

Figure 3.16 Compost shredder/grinder

The Mighty Mack shredder/grinder will easily shred and grind tree prunings one inch thick. The balanced rotor has 24 hardened, free-swinging knives (hammers). Each knife has four cutting edges so when one wears smooth, you can turn the knife around for a new, sharp surface. Remove the screens and the shredder will handle wet materials such as wet manure, wet leaves and green stalks.

AMERIND-MACKISSIC, INC.

Parker Ford, PA 19457

Large Grinder For Compost

SHREDDER/GRINDERS

For gardeners who want to make quick compost create mulch, or condition the soil organically, a shredder/ grinder is a must

For mulching and soil conditioning: Finely chopped vines, corncobs, hay, leaves and manure make better mulch than coarse raw material, because their fine texture permits them to retain moisture more effectively.

For composting: A shredder both speeds and eases complete decomposition through bacterial action by reducing the size of the individual particles of matter.

Most models utilize steel tines (hammers) on a shaft that sweeps across grate bars or a perforated plate. The standard types are either fixed hammers (attached solidly to the shaft) or free-swinging hammers. Inexpensive models utilize blades; older types include a rotating square gate and grinding belt

The size of the hopper, the type of material used in the frame, and the quality of the hammers vary considerably between models.

There are also an increasing number of small shredders and shredder/chippers on the market that can be stored easily. One unusual one uses a flywheel and large cutting discus instead of a blade. The Steinmax Electric Shredder is a light-weight electric shredder that is easy to move around and store. The Lescha electric chipper/shredder uses a high performance 1.54 hp. motor and razor-sharp steel cutting blade that spins vertically on a heavy flywheel. It will swallow branches up to one inch thick. The Leaf Eater is specifically designed for shredding leaves. It takes piles of wet or dry leaves and turns them into finely-textured leaf mulch. It is available from: GARDENER'S SUPPLY 133 Elm St

Winsooki, Burlington, VT 05401.

Some tractors and tillers offer shredder/composter combinations. Also available are leaf mills, into which leaves are fed, chopped up by a blade, and collected in a bag for compression or use in compost

SUPPLIERS AND MANUFACTURERS OF SHREDDERS/GRINDERS

AMEKIND-MACKISSIC, INC

Parker Ford, PA 19457

ARMSTRONG INTERNATIONAL Flowtron Div. 2 Main St. Meirose, MA 02176

BARCLAY ROTHSCHILD MFG 949 Wiison Ave. Downsview, Toronto Canada

THE C.S. BELL CO. 170 W. Davis St Tiffin, OH 44883

LINDIG MFG CORF. 1875 W. Country Rd. C St Paul, MN 55113

MTD PRODUCTS, INC. P.O. Box 360900 Cleveland, OH 44136

NATIONAL GREENHOUSE CO,

400 E. Main St Pana, 1L 62557

PI QUA ENGINEERING, INC. P.O. Box 605 Piqua, OH 45356

PROMARK PRODUCTS, INC. 330 9th

Industry, CA 91746

ROBO HOE LAWN &

GARDEN EQUIPMENT 8125 Main Newbury, OH 44065

ROVER-STOTT BONNER LTD. P.O. Box 292 Allendale, NJ 07401

ROYER FOUNDER &

MACHINE CO. 158 Pringle St Kingston, PA 18704

SGK, INC. 2 Daws Ave. Frazer, PA 19355

STERLING ASSOCIATES,

INC 687 Seville Rd. Wadsworth, OH 44281

TRANS-SPHERE CORP. P.O. Box 1564 Mobile, AL 36633

W-W GRINDER. INC. P.O. Box 4029 Wichita, KS 67204

WHEEL HORSE PRODUCTS, INC

515 W. Ireland Rd. South Bend, IN 46614

WHITE OUTDOOR

PRODUCTS White Farm Equipment 2625 Butterfield Rd. Oak Brook, IL 60521

WINONA ALTRITION

MILL CO. 1009 W 5th St Winona, MN 55987

THE YARD MAN CO. P.O. Box 36940 Cleveland, OH 44136

Figure 3.18

Figure 3.18

Mulching can be a permanent proposition. As soon as your vegetables come up and look vigorous, spread a hay, straw, grass or leaf mulch 8 to 19 inches thick everywhere, between the rows and around all plants.

Next season, don't till the soil; just push back the mulch and make the row plantings. Then when the plants have sprouted, push the mulch back around them. The soil beneath this permanent mulch will stay loose and friable. Add more mulch the second year to maintain a 4 to 7 inch depth.

A disadvantage is that soil under the mulch stays cool. This delays planting of the warm-weather plants.

Solid hammers ylduantageHeavy hammers will crush or break fairly heavy materials.

Disadvantages: Will sometimes break or twist when processing heavy twigs or rocks. Rigid hammers often wrap heavy vines around hammer mills. Swinging hammers

Advantages: Hammers will release on impact with heavy material and rocks.

Disadvantages: Hard to balance. Takes more power. Heavy strain and wear on pivot points.

MANUFACTURERS OF SYNTHETIC MULCHES

AGROTECH P.O. Box 857 Houiton, MA 04730

ALLIED PLASTICS. IMC 1663 Hargrove Ave. Gastonia, NC 28052

ANDERSON BOX CO., IMC. 2130 Stout Field W. Dr. indianapolis, IN 46241

AVERY CORF. 3500 N. Kimball Ave. Chicago, IL 60618

ASSOCIATED BAG CO. 160 S. 2nd St Milwaukee, WS 53204

CENTRAL STATES

DIVERSIFIED, IMC 9332 Manchester Rd. St Louis, MO 63119

CHAPLEWSKVS, INC. 1618 Commercial St Bangor, W1 54614

COLUMBIA BUR1AF

& BAG CO. Nursery Supply Div. 999 Bedford

N, Kansas City, MO 64116

CORDAGE PACKAGING 66 Jenny Rd. Dayton, OH 45404

DALLAS BAG &

BURIAP CO., INC, 153 Leslie St Dallas, TX 75207

DEW1TT CO. INC. Polypropylene Fabric Div. Hwy 61 South Sikeston, MO 63801

DURA PRODUCTS, INC. 417 N. Main St F.O. Box 1068 Houston, TX 77001

EASY GARDENEK INC. P.O. Box 2105 Waco, TX 76703

J.C EHRICH CHEMICAL

CO,, INC. 840 William Lane Reading PA 19612

FE5CO PUVSTiCS CORP., INC. 2850 Festival Dr. Kanakee, IL 60901

GARDEN TECH LTD. P.O. Box 612 Need ham, MA 02192

GRIFFOLYN CO. P.O. Box 33248 Houston, TX 77233

GRO GROUP, INC Five Shawsheen Ave. Bedford, MA 01730

iNSUL-RJB, INC. P.O. Box 447 Castle Rock, MN 55010

JADERTOON CO., INC. P.O. Box 685 Irmo, SC 29063

KENBAR, INC. 24 Gould St Reading, MA 01867

KEYSTONE STEEL 6f Wl RE CO. 7000 W. Adams Peoria, IL 61641

UNDO INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTS, INC. 40 Queen Elizabeth Btvd Toronto, Ont Canada M87 1M2

MALLOW CORP. 1835 S. Nordic Ave Mt Prospect, IL 60056

NORTH AMERICAN PLASTIC

CORP. 921 Industrial Dr. Auroa, IL 60506

PARAMOUNT PERUTE CO. 16236 S. IL Paramount, CA 90723

PENURKE PRODUCTS 13 Linden Ave. E. Jersey City, NJ 07305

FRESTO-PRODUCTS, INC. P.O. Box 2399 670 N. Perkins St Appleton, Wl 54913

RAVEN INDUSTRIES, INC.

Sioux Falls, SD 57117

RELIANCE PLASTIC 6f

CHEMICAL CORP. 110 Kearney St P.O. Box 2627 Faterson, NJ 07509

SERVICE CANVAS CO., INC. 149 Swan St Buffalo, NY 14203

STAKTEX CORP. P.O. Box 20 645 Washington St Hanover, MA 02339

UNITED BAGS, INC. 2508 N. Broadway St Louis, MO 63102

WARP BROS. 4647 W. Augusta Blvd Chicago, IL 60651

ZARN, INC. F.O. Box 1360 Reidsville, NC 27320

Figure 3.20 Combo chipper/shredder

This versatile chipper/shredder/mulcher operates standing up or lying on its side. Yard and garden debris is reduced to one-tenth its original volume for clean, economical disposal or for use as mulch and compost VORANDO POWER PRODUCTS, INC. 386 Park Ave. South New York, NY 10016

Bandini FertilizerVegetable Garden Phoenix

MANUFACTURERS AND DISTRIBUTORS OF ORGANIC FERTILIZERS

AND OTHER ORGANIC PRODUCTS

THE ANDERSON P.O. Box 119 Maumee, OH 43537

B.CA PRODUCTS P.O. Box 325 Sleepy Eye, MN 56085

BANDINI FERTILIZER 4139 Bandini Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90023

BARZEN ENTERPRISES, INC. 455 Harrison St N.E. Minneapolis, MN 5413

BONIDE CHEMICAL CO. 2 Würz Ave. Yorkville, NY 13495

BROWN GOLD SOIL CORP. 50 E. 25th St Paterson, NJ 07514

CHEVRON CHEMICAL CO. Ortho Products Div. 575 Market St San Francisco, CA 94105

CHIPMAN, INC. 400 Jones Rd. Stoney Creek, Ont Canada L8G 3Z1

DOUGLASS FERTILIZER

& CHEMICAL, INC. P.O. Box 2811 Lake Mary, FL 32714

ESTECH, INC. (VIGORO LAWN

& GARDEN PRODUCES) One Southern Illinois

Bank Bldg Fairview Heights, IL 62208

GARFIELD-WILLIAMSON, INC. 1072 West Side Ave. Jersey City, NJ

GOOD EARTH ORGANICS

CORP. 5960 Broadway Lancaster, NY 14086

HOME GARDENING

NATURALLY Div. of Progressive

Agri-Systems, Inc. 201 Center St Stockertown, PA 18083

J&LADIKES, INC 182-12 93rd Ave. Jamaica, NY 11423

KCI PRODUCTS 2535 Pilot Knob Rd. Mendota Hts., MN 55120

LESCO, INC. 20005 Lake Rd. Rocky River, OH 44116

LOFT'S SEED, INC. Chimney Rock Rd. Bound Brook, NJ 08805

MILAZZO INDUSTRIES 1609 River Rd. Pittston, PA 18640

MOUNTAIN SPRING RANCH,

INC. P.O. Box 53 Carlsbad, CA 92006

ORGANIC CONSERVATION

CORP. P.O. Box 249 Altura, MN 55910

PACIFIC AGRO CO. 903 House Way N. P.O. Box 326 Renton, WA 98027

PAYGRO, INC.

11000 Huntington Rd.

South Charleston, OH 45386

2072 E. Center Circle

Minneapolis, MN 55441

RID-A-BUG P.O. Box 6246 10 W. Adams St Jacksonville, FL 32236

RINGER CORP. 9959 Valley View Rd. Eden Prairie, MN 55344

STA-GREEN Parker Fertilizer Co. P.O. Box 540 Sylacauga, AL 35150

SEA-BORN

200 Rockford Rd.

Charles City, IA 50616

SOIL ENTERPRISE CORP. P.O. Box 81333 Mobile, AL 36689

SUDBURY LABORATORY, INC.

6 October Hill Rd. Holliston, MA 01746

SUNNILAND CORP. P.O. Box 996 930 Riverside Wichita, KS 67201

SUTHERLAND INDUSTRIES, INC.

11781 Lee Jackson

Memorial Hwy Fairvax, VA 22033

TEX-GRO FERTILIZER CO. P.O. Box 1712 Pecos, TX 79772

U.S. FETRO-CORP. P.O. Box 111 Spanish Fork, UT 84660

VERMA GROW PRODUCTS Rt 3, Box 402 Salem, VA 24153

Organic Gardeners Composting

Organic Gardeners Composting

Have you always wanted to grow your own vegetables but didn't know what to do? Here are the best tips on how to become a true and envied organic gardner.

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