Mulch & Firewood News
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There are many mulch types available for your organic garden, but which is the best mulch for you? This article explores some of the most popular types of mulch and ultimately comes to a conclusion with what you should use. What is mulch? It’s really anything that we put on the soil surface to cover the ground. Landscaping Fabric – Not The Best Mulch Landscaping fabric is considered part of our mulch because it is often placed on the soil under various types of mulch in order to help control weeds. The cheap stuff doesn’t work very well, but thicker fabric can work for awhile before weeds start to find their way through the cracks or just start on top of the mulch. Unfortunately, that thick landscaping fabric can also stop water from getting down to the soil, especially on a slope where the water just slides down the fabric to the bottom. It doesn’t take long for the landscape to show signs of suffering in this case. But the biggest problem with this fabric is that it doesn’t allow organic matter to recycle into the soil. When you put landscaping fabric on, it means your soil doesn’t get to eat anymore. This is definitely not the best mulch for organic gardening purposes. Soil needs to be consistently replenished with organic matter, so any of the mulch types we choose have to be composed of organic matter. Soil is replenished in nature and in our gardens when leaves fall in autumn, and since many of our gardens are low in organic matter anyway, it also happens when we intentionally bring in more leaves, straw, compost and other organic matter to improve the soil. Putting landscaping fabric in the garden stops all of this and slowly kills the fertility and structure of the soil, and everything living in it. The only potential use is on pathways, since we are compacting them anyway and not trying to increase the organic matter. But we need to look elsewhere for the best mulch. Why Organic Matter Is One Of The Better Types Of Mulch When it comes to choosing a good mulch, we need to think, what is mulch for? Weeds. A continuous thick, dense layer of 2”-4” of one of the best mulch types is one of my favorite ways to control weeds because not only does it smother most of them out, it makes the ones that do find their way through so much easier to pull, especially if you have been clever enough to regularly hit the garden (and the mulch) with some water. Weed seeds will always be floating in, but a thick mulch will stop them We have other organic gardening chores to do, so eliminating most of the weeds is a good goal. It may be necessary to kill some tap-rooted or perennial weeds before placing the mulch on top of them. In addition, maintaining a dense, multi-layer plant cover on your soil consisting of a groundcover below…Read More
As fall’s cool, crisp air settles in and the season changes to winter, a warm fire is a welcoming thought. Fireplaces and wood stoves are an important, economical source of heat in many homes during the cooler months. If you’re using firewood to heat your home, you’ll want to keep a supply on hand, whether you purchase the firewood or cut it yourself. There’s much more to firewood than meets the eye, though. Drying Firewood needs to be dry before it is used. Cornell University Cooperative Extension,Tompkins County explains that firewood should be bought or cut a year before you intend to use it in order to ensure proper drying of the wood. The wood should also be stacked as soon as possible so that the logs can dry out. Storage In order to protect the wood you’ve cut or purchased, proper storage is necessary. Cornell University Cooperative Extension, Tompkins County recommends keeping wood off the ground helps it lose moisture and also prevents it from getting damp. There should be some space between logs so that air can get through. Storing wood in an area that is exposed to sunlight and wind is also a good idea so that the wood can dry more quickly. Burning safety Before putting wood on the fire, check to make sure that it is dry. Wood that is green or wet will not burn well and can become a fire hazard. Wood stoves are designed for wood, not paper, trash, treated wood or any other products. Cornell University Cooperative Extension, Tompkins County recommends using hardwoods like oak, hickory and black locust. Small amounts of softwoods can also be used, such as poplar, aspen and spruce. Michigan State University Extension offers information about the hazards of wood burning and how to take precautions while heating your home with a wood stove or fireplace. Woodcutting Safety If you’re cutting your own firewood, there are numerous safety precautions to take, including wearing protective gear, taking chainsaw safety courses and learning safe, effective ways to fell trees. Chris Kick explains the do’s and don’ts of chain saw operation and safety as well as simple ways to be proactive while cutting wood. Contact Jon Dobbs for more information (757) 428-7919Read More