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The Mulch Mountain

I like mowing.  One of the few “things” I really love is my mower.  I had a horrible beast of a Briggs and Stratton for years and I have no affectionate memories at all of it.  It was demanding, unreliable and very needy.  But then I met a 5.5 horsepower Honda self propelled walk-behind, and we’ve been getting on really well for years now.

It’s just hard enough work for me to feel entirely justified ignoring the gym.  A few kilometres of power walking, a bit of aerobic exercise pushing it uphill, a bit of weight training emptying the bag, a bit of stretching and flexing.  The perfect workout.

I call it my “mowing meditation” and I come up with all my best ideas after about half an hour of walking round in circles behind a mower with earmuffs on.   The first half hour gets rid of all the little buzzing worries and vexations that clog up a brain.  The second half hour is full of “I wonder if” thinking.

And last, and I guess least though it’s still pretty good, I end up with mulch for the garden, and with enough mulch every other bit of gardening just works.

I’ve been doing an hour of mowing most mornings lately, first thing in the morning before work.  It yields me a uteload of mulch each time.  Sometimes I work in public but at the moment it’s just me in a little office, which is just as well since I must look a sight in my mowing gear.

The chooks get a barrowload a day which they are scratching over for seeds, pooing in, and turning into sheet compost for the next bed. The fruit trees are getting a bit of horse manure and some mulch.   The current garden beds are all getting mulched up, protecting the soil, reducing the need to water, and encouraging worms.  I have a new compost pile on the go which will give me compost for potting mix for my seedlings, so I can grow them on in the shadehouse and plant them out as quite advanced seedlings.  And the mulch mountain is giving me a nice sense of garden security as we head into what could be a hot dry summer.

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{ 11 comments… add one }
  • Sharon October 4, 2011, 11:21 am

    Hi, I would love to be able to use more of our lawn clippings. but I find if they are piled to thickly they turn into a slimy solid sheet which takes forever to break down! Do you just sprinkle it thinly over the beds? I do end up with some clumps which as I said go slimy. they seem okay if you can dry them out a bit first but are particularly bad if it is wet….

  • Linda October 4, 2011, 11:30 am

    Hi Sharon, I have a community reserve that I mow. The grass is not watered so in this heat it is pretty dry, and there are angopheras (apple gums) scattered around the edge, that drop lots of dry leaves. So the clippings don’t turn into gley (the slimy water-repellent mat that green lawn clippings can turn into) and I can put them straight onto my beds a foot deep. If I’m mowing short grass though, or if it has been wet and the reserve has lots of soft meadow weeds, I do have to dry it out first or it will mat down. Or turn it into compost. Anything green and wet is likely to be high in nitrogen so it will make good compost, if not good mulch.

  • Sharon October 4, 2011, 11:41 am

    Thanks Linda – by the way I love your book. I have/am currently developing a new garden (we have 15 acres) and I’m using your circle principles. Lots of weeds coming up now but I’m hoping my chooks will deal to them in time! biggest issue is dealing with mulch as I know that is what keeps the weeds down, moisture retained etc. but it is getting stuff that isn’t full of seeds that’s the trouble. I’ve got hold of some rotted baleage, which seems to be good. I also have a stream full of the water plant you describe so will be harvesting that for the compost!
    thanks for your comments – Sharon

  • serendipity2000 October 4, 2011, 1:13 pm

    Linda, you are amazing. That is a massive pile of grass but I do understand the whole ‘getting in the zone’ thing while you’re on the mower. I, like Sharon, have just started developing my permaculture garden in Sydney. Not quite 15 acres unfortunately but still enough to keep me out of trouble. I don’t have any lawn either but I have neighbours that do which may come in handy down the track as I’m totally into compost making and would love to have a chance at hot composting one day. The only on-site mulch we have available is eucalyptus leaf which, as you know is not so good for vegies etc so I shred it and will use it on the paths where it can be trampled and ‘cured’ over time. Perhaps then I can use this in my compost but at the moment I’m using imported mulches for my compost making. Not ideal but works for the moment. BTW your posts are inspirational.

  • Linda October 4, 2011, 1:24 pm

    I’m a bit ruthless with work usually – if a thing doesn’t need to be done for at least three reasons, it doesn’t get done (hence the state of my lounge room). But mowing, I admit, I cheat, I find at least 3 reasons whatever. I don’t have anywhere near enough mowing needs to be done around my place, and I like to mow somewhere that needs mowing. So the reserve is a good spot because it creates a nice lawn for kids to play on and cars to park when there’s something on at the community centre etc. But I have to admit I have been known to mow areas that really have no good reason to need a lawn. Just that lack of mulch can create a huge bottleneck in the garden. I also have a good source for azolla at the moment, so I’m a happy camper. I don’t worry about seeds in compost, but I do go to some effort to make sure I’m making hot compost, and I guess I know my sources now so I know I’m not getting any really nasty new weeds.

  • dixiebelle October 5, 2011, 9:13 am

    I also love to mow, we have a rechargeable electric mower which is so easy to use… unfortunately, most of our ‘lawn’ is weed & dirt, and we are slowly turning our ‘lawn into lunch’, either productive areas or mulched walkways in between!

  • kim October 5, 2011, 11:16 am

    I love mowing more than ironing, and cleaning ….. my house can be a mess but everything is mowed ! It really is a place to contemplate and shake the cobwebs….. perhaps yoga mowing could be the new craze. There is also such a productive feeling about carrying a load of lawn clippings and dumping them in the chicken tractor to be scratched . It almost make you feel a sense of anticipation when the grass grows again.

  • Alison October 5, 2011, 9:17 pm

    For some reason, whenever I see lawn clippings I really want to roll in them.

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