Last year I started following a few other homesteading blogs which is where I came across a brilliant gardening idea….deep mulching. This was a game changer for our garden this year not only with soil improvement but also water reduction. In our journey for self sufficiency our garden is must have and any natural ways of getting better soil means more bountiful harvest.
Deep mulch can be done several different ways, wood chips, straw or hay. Hay was our choice since we have it for free but the other options work too! What we did was this past fall, layer a thick blanket of hay down of at least 12″ thick. The more the better. From there it sits all winter and starts to break down creating compost. Usually in past springs we have rented a tiller and then after tilling we would still work the garden with our mantis before planting. By the time we do all this its May and I’ve missed out on any of the cool weather spring planting. This method required no tilling and without all the equipment rental, I was able to plant my first spring garden and extend my growing season!
Deep mulch garden isn’t without some prep. There were some weeds and unwanted grass to pull but with the soil being so loose they came right out. Now to plant the seeds you just have to pull back the mulch for adequate spacing for the seedlings. Once the plants started to emerge I pushed the hay back to cover up bare spots around the plants to keep water moisture in and weeds smothered.
By this time in past years I’m in an all out war with weeds growing everywhere in the garden. With the deep mulch I am not weed free but it’s a manageable amount that doesn’t completely overwhelm me. If you love to garden and looking for ways to improve your soil you should seriously give this a try!