If you’re interested in gardening, you understand the importance of mulching in keeping your garden healthy. Mulching helps to keep your soil and produce healthy by discouraging weeds and providing nutrients to your ground.
One way to make mulching cheaper is to do it yourself using your existing skillset and available materials in your compound.
But how to make mulch and is it possible to do so?
You can make your mulch, and the results are often more impressive than those of store-bought mulch. You can use many materials, including grass clippings, bark, sawdust, newspapers, weeds, yard waste, and manure. If you don’t have a machine, use a lawnmower to shred 2 inches of leaves.
This article talks about how to make mulch, its benefits, safety, and the ingredients you’ll need for your homemade mulch.
Also Check – Best Mulch For Vegetable Garden
Is It Possible to Make Your Mulch?
Yes, you can make your mulch by using easily accessible ingredients around your home to boost your plants’ health.
However, the procedure you use to make your mulch depends on your selected materials. If you use leaves, shred them into smaller pieces not exceeding 2 inches before spreading them on your garden.
When using newspaper, spread four to eight sheets around your plants before watering them to keep them in place.
Alternatively, use grass clippings but make sure they’re dry before spreading them generously around your garden. This is because wet grass can prevent oxygen from penetrating your plants.
The relativity in the different ways you can make your mulch provides you options that suit your skill level, available materials, and preference.
You don’t need an expensive skill set to make your mulch. Regardless of the materials, you wish to use; you can easily access information online or from other farmers around you to make the process easy and successful.
If it’s your first time, you can search for the best mulch to use on the kind of plants you have on your farm.
What Are the Ingredients in Mulch?
Mulch can use several ingredients like sawdust, manure, grass and leaves clipping, straw, comfrey, kitchen scraps, cardboard, and wood chippings. There are two significant types of mulch you can get from these materials; organic and inorganic.
Both types are excellent for improving the health and yield of your plants. However, organic mulch also improves the quality of your soil and consequently provides more long-term benefits for you as a farmer.
Organic mulch is made with no preservatives, such as kitchen scraps or manure. On the other hand, inorganic mulch uses preservatives or chemicals, although they are still safe for plant survival, for example, newspapers.
When looking for ingredients, begin with whatever you have at hand in your compound or farm before outsourcing. For instance, if you have grass and leaves, mix these two and outsource some manure as a third ingredient.
This way, you save significantly on cost and have more confidence since you know the source of most of your materials.
How Do You Make Mulch Without a Machine?
You can use several tools like small chainsaws, angle grinders, and even your hand to make and apply your mulch without a machine. If you don’t own a wood chipper, use an angle grinder to cut up excess wood in your compound into smaller pieces.
Alternatively, if you have wood logs, use a chainsaw to reduce their size before proceeding with your angle grinder.
Compared to using a wood chipper machine, these techniques require more elbow grease, but they proceed to usable sizes of wood for mulching.
If you use more delicate materials like leaves or grass, you can use your hands to lay them out under the sun to dry. Take your lawnmower to shred them up to smaller sizes before applying them to your garden.
You can use your hands for application. A pair of gardening gloves come in handy to protect your hands throughout the mulching process.
Can I Use Weeds and Yard Waste as Mulch?
Using weeds and yard waste is an excellent idea if you have a small or medium-sized garden. One important consideration if you choose to use weeds as mulch is to harvest the weeds before their set seeds. Also, you need to keep applying the weeds before the harvesting season arrives.
Luckily, weeds grow fast, so you’ll always have enough to go around the season if you have a small garden. You’ll follow the same procedure as you did with the grass clippings by drying the weeds before applying them to your garden.
Yard waste which can include grass, leaves, and woods, are an excellent source of free organic mulch. The benefit of using yard waste is that they keep your weeds as short as possible. This is because the weeds will struggle to rise through the mulch and remain very small, while others lack oxygen and die off.
Is Mulch Making Toxic to Humans?
Mulch-making at home is a straightforward, safe process that doesn’t risk you or your family. Besides, whether organic or inorganic, homemade mulch is one of the safest ways to keep your garden and yourself healthy.
One of the main reasons why you may perceive mulch making as toxic is because of some of the harmful substances in some store-bought mulch available today. But, remember that homemade mulch mainly uses organic materials around your home like those mentioned above in this article.
Organic materials don’t contain additives, preservatives, or chemicals and guarantee safety.
Some of the inorganic materials used in homemade mulch, such as newspapers, have no significant threat to your safety. However, newspapers dated past 1990 could be harmful because of the materials used in printing back then.
What Are Some Benefits of Making My Mulch?
Some benefits of using homemade mulch include squelching weeds, making plants healthy, and regulating the soil temperature. Plus, improving the soil quality, discouraging leaves build-up, and adding aesthetic value.
Mulching suffocates weeds as they cannot penetrate beyond the layers of mulch to get oxygen and sunlight. As a result, they either die off or have stunted growth.
In addition, mulch adds nutrients to your plants to make them more healthy and increase yield. Plant research has shown that mulching can improve the quality of plants by up to 50% in output compared to gardens that don’t have mulch.
Another significant benefit is the regulation of soil temperature. Mulch protects plants and soil from extreme heat or cold. This is done by providing protective layers to keep temperatures constant and free from drastic changes that damage your plants.
Mulching also improves the soil quality by providing much-needed nutrients for productivity and pH regulation. Without mulching, the soil quality gradually declines, which affects the quality of your plants and hinders the fruitfulness of your garden.
A mulched garden is also beautiful to the eyes. It looks structured and well maintained. The different colors of the mulch, which depend on the materials you use, provide an attractive appearance.
How Can I Make Mulch Fast?
You can speed up your mulching process through the use of machinery, early planning, using available materials, and involving others in the mulch-making process.
Having the right equipment goes a long way in simplifying the mulching process. For instance, using a wood chipper is more straightforward than an angle grinder or other tools for cutting down wood.
The same can be said for using a lawnmower when shredding grass clippings to a suitable size. The more powerful the machine, the easier the work and the faster you can make your mulch.
To add to this, try planning out your mulching season beforehand. Give yourself ample time to prepare the materials you need for the process without a hurry. If you use grass or leaves, they take several days to a week to become dry enough for mulching.
Do this when the weather is favorable, the sun is hot, so you won’t have to take much time before application.
A final tip is to incorporate other family, friends, or employees to speed up the mulching process. The more the hands-on deck, the faster the work completion rate. Some can help gather the materials; others should prepare them for mulching and a final group in the application.
Dividing work saves you time and motivates you to keep mulching your garden as it’s less tedious when working with a team.
How Can I Obtain Good Garden Mulch?
Good garden mulch is any healthy material for use and insulation around your garden. You can make mulch from different materials, but the ultimate goal is to ensure that the mulch is safe for you and your garden.
Avoid using materials that have excessive chemicals, additives, or preservatives.
Many store-bought mulch brands use preservatives to make the products long-lasting. However, these preservatives are mostly within limits prescribed by the government regulation.
Watch out for mulch brands listed with the Food and Drug Administration and other relevant regulatory bodies. You can get a comprehensive list of such harmful products among others on the official government website.
The government publishes these products because such manufacturers use illegal supplier connections to ensure their products get to the consumer. Publishing them contributes to limiting their influence and entry into the market.
Homemade mulch is considered the best because you source your ingredients and use them according to your preference.
Toxic mulch contains harmful substances like excessive levels of ammonia, acetic acid, alcohol, methanol, among others. Whether picking out ingredients for homemade mulch or shopping from the store, look out for evidence of these materials and avoid using them.
Good mulch makes your plants and soils healthy, while toxic mulch shows tremendous results at first, then damages your soil and consequently your plants.
Is It Safe to Touch Mulch?
Some materials used in mulching are considered toxic and are best left untouched. Some examples include fungal spores and wood dust, wood dust is a known carcinogen, and some types of fungi can cause diseases.
However, most organic mulch is safe for human handling and poses no significant threat to you. You can refrain from touching a plant with mulch to allow it to remain hydrated and protect it from weeds.
Does Mulch Have Poop in It?
Some mulch has manure incorporated in them. Manure is mainly made from animal waste after a process of decomposition. When making mulch, farmers or manufacturers can mix manure with other materials like wood dust, leaves, grass, and other organic materials.
If you use manure, know that it is purely organic and not harmful to you, although you may use a pair of garden gloves if you find it disgusting to handle.
Can I Make My Bark Mulch?
Yes, you can make your bark mulch using bark and leaves at no extra cost. To prepare this type of mulch, put down the first layer of bark sheet followed by 2 inches of dry leaves to cover it up.
Ensure that both the bark and the leaves are dry to avoid the suffocation of your plants or trees. This is one of the most cost-effective ways of mulching ideal for large farms.
Which Type of Wood Is Best for Mulch?
Mulch made from cedar is considered the most useful for plants and soil. Cedars have natural nutrients and oils that repel insects. This makes it ideal for gardening as insects and termites are among the significant threats that farmers face against their farms’ productivity.
Cedar mulch is also long-lasting and doesn’t require constant replacement. It’s one of the most aesthetically pleasing types of mulch that make your garden look tidy.
Making your homemade mulch is a straightforward task that requires effort and little cost. Making mulch at home is safe, and there are many ingredients you can use, such as wood, leaves, grass, manure, among others.
Homemade mulch can be organic and inorganic, but the organic option is best for your soil and plants. Take time to prepare your mulch correctly before applying for the best results, for instance, by taking time to dry your ingredients. You can speed up the mulching process through machinery, but it’s also possible to make mulch without a machine.