Spreading grass mulch

Spreading grass-alfalfa mulch on garlic

Today, I took advantage of a one-day reprieve from the cold—it was a pleasant 9°C (48°F)—to test the new grass-alfalfa mulch on a bed of garlic. I suspected spreading the light, loosely clumped mix would be more of a chore than tossing around straw, and it was. I first tried dumping it out, but the big clumps took forever to break up and spread, so I switched to pulling it apart by hand. The large bags of mulch weigh next to nothing, so that wasn’t hard, but you wouldn’t want to do it in the wind. Next, spreading it evenly. This proved to be a bit of a puzzle. I started with a hay rake, with three widely spaced tines, but this just slid through the grass, not catching enough to move it around. Out came an unlikely array of other hand tools to try: the compost fork (dark tines, right at the bottom of the pic), the 3-tine cultivator, a regular rake, and a leaf rake with round tines (the wide landscape rake was for marking rows in another bed). None of these worked well. Closely-spaced tines caught too much and cleared areas rather than covering them. I eventually used a combo of the 3-tine cultivator to break up the clumps, then skimming with the small rake to even it out. The results were pretty good, with a fluffy 2-3″ layer down the 50′. But it was delicate, picky work as the grass is very light. There are five more beds to go to refine my method (basically, figure out a better way)! I also planted a final 50’x5-row bed, using up the last of my seed reserve, bringing the garlic total to about 3,000…

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4 Responses to “Spreading grass mulch”

  1. ewa says:

    Hi,
    Could you share your experience on the garlic grass mulching – does it help garlic to grow better?
    greetings,

  2. Mike (tfb) says:

    Hi ewa: This is the first time I’m trying grass mulch, so I won’t know how well it worked until spring, next April to see if the garlic is coming up OK, and then in May and June to see how well it suppresses the various weeds. For the last couple of years, I’ve mulched the garlic with straw. That has worked out well. I spread maybe 2-3″ (5-7.5cm) deep (would’ve used a bit more if I’d had it), and it kept most of the weeds away, and also retained moisture (the soil was noticeably cool and moist well into a dry spell).

  3. Todd says:

    I know another old post.  Sorry i’m working my way up.  Since the oats die off during the winter, would it be possible to plant the garlic directly in the planted oats?  When the oats die they should provide a nice mulch layer, I suppose you could use that sickle bar mower and cut them off if needed. 

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