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Grass mulch, Season 2

Mowing for mulch

The grass seemed just long enough for a productive mulch cut without overloading the John Deere riding mower, so today was the day to start season 2 in the grass mulch experiment. This is just one part of the total mowing area: including the field perimeter and another big area behind where I’m standing to take the photo, there’s maybe four times that much (this area is being kept clear for the eventual bigger greenhouse). The JD’s deflector forms those nice mini-windrows instead of scattering the cut, making raking it up much quicker. I’m still not sure if the time it takes to mow, hand-rake and bag will be worth it on a larger scale: will the work be offset by savings in irrigation and weeding, and maybe better yield, for the crops that’ll be mulched? It takes a lot of big, packed leaf bags to properly mulch just a few beds… Well, we’ll soon find out!

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7 Comments

  1. It’s that difficult choice isn’t it, preparing your own mulch from what you have to hand takes time and some money – mower fuel and depreciation but buying in mulch would require a much larger outlay of cash requiring very significant sales (remembering that you also have to pay tax on the sales too).
    Sometimes I think, wouldn’t it be great to have enough money to purchase everything I need but then other days I feel inner pride at using what I have and getting something better (food) back from it.
     

  2. This is going to seem like a strange question, but what type of John Deere do you have?  We are moving to 6 acres soon and are trying to pick out a tractor.  Did you guys buy it new or used?  Did you look at other brands?  We’ve narrowed it down to either a John Deere or a Toro.  The JD is a lot more expensive so we are trying to figure out if the extra money is worth it.

  3. We are experimenting with using grass as our mulch too. So far so good!

  4. Mulching your garden will do wonders for the yield!
    Using fresh mown grass is a great idea, just be careful not to lay it on too thick, as it can go all oozy and smelly while it breaks down (anaerobically) it can also repel water when the surface dries.
    I’ve done similar on a small scale and I had to remove it all and compost it.
    An option may be to stockpile it, mix in some manure and straw and compost it over a month or two to let it break down a little.
    Best of luck!

  5. christy oneal: Our John Deere is an LT155, a pretty old model. It’s 13HP, with a 38″ mowing deck. It’s pretty much your standard getting into the higher end riding mower, bought used. Dunno if I’d swear by JD, but it’s held up pretty well, with a bit of welding and under $500 in various parts, including belts and blades. If you’re planning on mowing a good part of that 6 acres (for some odd reason :), I think looking for a wider deck would be a good idea. Also, I imagine any decent brand would work out just as well. If you’re looking at compact tractors, like, a real mini-tractor, our (also bought used) Kubota is really great.

    Ben: Thanks for your findings! I’m so far pretty careful with the grass, It’s well dried before it’s put on. I agree, using a thick layer of freshly cut grass wouldn’t be a good idea at all…

  6. Hello!  I LOVE your site.   You are my hero.  I stumbled across this entry and I think I actually may have a suggestion for your raking problem.  We have been experimenting with faster grass clipping collection (we have about 4 acres of lawn right now) and we stumbled across a way that is remarkably quick and easy.   Last fall we picked up one of those pull-behind-your-mower lawn sweepers (something resembling this – http://www.northerntool.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/product_6970_200326794_200326794).
    It didn’t work very well for fallen leaves, but we tried it on our grass clipping rows this year and it was awesome.  It really is a 2 person job.  One person to sweep and one person to flip over the cart and load it into a bin/truck.  We can easily clear our entire lawn in 1 hour.  This beats raking 20 times over.

    I’ll be checking back to see how the mulching is going.  Right now we are using our grass clippings in the compost heap.

  7. Deanna Deiters: Glad you like the blog! Thanks for the suggestion as well, it’s a great one! In fact, shortly after this post, I was loaned a lawn sweeper and I agree, it’s fantastic, incredibly fast and efficient compared to hand-raking (and our riding mower really doesn’t use much gas). I’ve taken photos, but I guess I didn’t post about it yet (we were discussing it on Tiny Farm Forum). Now, with all the wet, cloudy weather, the concern is with it starting to slime and decompose from underneath, even though it was dry when spread.

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