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Hi All,

Hopefully this year i can plant my salad beds again, with the addition of orchid type flowers,

The available mulch i have is

Banana culms and leaves, [no end]

Tamarind tree droppings, leaves and twigs some old fruit,

Bamboo leaves, nearly 2 in thick on 1 rai in plantation

Mango and Kanoon leaves, all brown and dead,

Well rotted culm and sawdust compost,

I spread some other year old animal manure on 2 beds today and dug in, weve had a couple of storms recently and the ground is soft and digable, when do i put on some mulch please? and as we are a bit prone to wind gusts here, would any of you recomend covering with shade net to keep the mulch in place?

My connection wont stay on long enough to read all the valuable links on here, Thanks for any ideas,,

Thanks, Lickey..

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Hi All,

Hopefully this year i can plant my salad beds again, with the addition of orchid type flowers,

The available mulch i have is

Banana culms and leaves, [no end]

Tamarind tree droppings, leaves and twigs some old fruit,

Bamboo leaves, nearly 2 in thick on 1 rai in plantation

Mango and Kanoon leaves, all brown and dead,

Well rotted culm and sawdust compost,

I spread some other year old animal manure on 2 beds today and dug in, weve had a couple of storms recently and the ground is soft and digable, when do i put on some mulch please? and as we are a bit prone to wind gusts here, would any of you recomend covering with shade net to keep the mulch in place?

My connection wont stay on long enough to read all the valuable links on here, Thanks for any ideas,,

Thanks, Lickey..

Hi mate ,ideally ,for salad beds your mulch should be composted (or partially ) as the process of being broken down in situ (on the beds ) uses up valuable nitrogen from the soil.

Mix all your mulching material with a bit of poo and a couple of handfuls of Urea ,keep slightly moist and turn the heap every 2 or 3 days and composting wont take long.

If you have enough ,apply a couple of inches all over the bed just prior to planting and plant your seedlings through it.

The mulch/ compost will then help stop weeds ,protect the beds from splash erosion when our inevitable downpours arrive and also add nutrients.

A couple of waterings and the mulch should settle enough that wind should not move it. :o

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Hi Dom, Thanks for that, I was just wondering if there would be any conflictions in the above material,seems not as it will be rotting together i suppose,

I have an exsisting year old heap, [full of rhino beetle dung pellets] ,would be ok to add fresh stuff to this, i have cow/chicken poo,and urea, or is it best to re-start the process?.

Also have a free supply of coconut husks, [well, i give him some tamarind or a hand of bananas to keep him sweet] These pieces are about 1/4 husk size, do they need to be smaller to go in the mix, or can they go straight on the ground then covered with the mulch,

Thanks Mate, Lickey,,

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Seems like my questions have come to a dead end, i really did expect help from organic farmers/gardeners for a little help on mulching here, but after 5 days and 1 reply im a little disappointed.

All im asking is what to do with the coconut husks and also have about 4tons of offcuts from logs, the bark is peeling away naturally now, i dont have a chipper,

And please, no links, my PC will only open 1 page at a time, i have to close the page im viewing to open another,

Thanks for any help you can offer, Lickey,,

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Hello Lickey,

Don't be too disappointed with the apparent lack of response. Jandtaa the all knowing oracle is back in the Uk for a while and this being a new sub-forum, there's a lot of new things going on.

Regarding bamboo leaves, I too have thought of the possibility of using as mulch. There's so many laying around and they are usually swept up and burnt. It seems such a waste to me.

From what I have been able to find out, bamboo leaves are very good at returning silica to the soil.

These are quotes from various websites.

Silica is like a missing link between plant vitality, strength, resistance to infection, and increased harvests. It helps strengthen cells, and plants are much healthier from the continual addition of silica from around 2 weeks old onwards.

Silica is a buffering and balancing substance that helps plants deal with potentially-toxic levels of salts, minerals and pollutants.

Silica has been proven to be beneficial to plant growth in hydroponics.

Once dampened, bamboo leaves seem to be unaffected by the wind.

Hope this helps

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Hi Lickey

I think you have a number of options to you in regard to mulching . I personally prefer to mulch my salad beds just after the rainy season and plant up straight away through the mulch (I have read that this is the most effective way).This year I have planted green manure to help protect the soil through the rainy season. I tend to use composted materials (this is taken from an earlier post) as a mulch.

"I like to use a mixture of coconut fibre (brilliant for retaining moisture), banana plants; old leaves, chopped up trunks once they have fruited and thinned suckers (all a good source of organic pottasium), burnt rice husks and weeds (altough I burn any that are seeding). I collect all these towards the end of the rainy season and start to compost them using my homebrew BIM. Once the hot phase of composting is over (about 3 weeks) and I'm happy the materials are no longer using up nitrogen to decompose I apply it my vegetable beds to a depth of about 5 inches. This is not like well matured compost used for potting but a very coarse material which breaks down slowly over the growing season, in fact the banana leaves and coconut fibre take about 10 months to fully decompose. I top this off with another 5-10 inches of rice straw into which i make planting holes down to the level of the first layer fill them with homemade potting compost and then either direct seed our plant out plug plants. By the end of the following wet season everything has completely broken down giving maybe an extra 2 inches of topsoil and I start again. " 

You could also try sheet mulching (less work than turning a compost heap):

post-47265-1238919333_thumb.jpg

using your dried leaves, tamarind trimmings, bamboo leaves and bark as your carbon layer (the bark will possibly tie up nitrogen but not as much as sawdust would and the high N content of the chicken manure will help)

The banana culms residue etc will be your nitrogen layer 

If you don't have a load of newspapers or cardboard I would suggest using banana leaves for this layer.

With regard to your coconut husks they will take a time to break down at that size but it depends whether you can invest the time and effort to cut them smaller. I also recommend immersing them in a drum of water for at least a couple of days to really soak them before adding to the compost or mulch.

I wouldn't mix in the old compost with the fresh (although sprinkling in a few handfuls might help innoculate the fresh pile with some micro-organisms) but use it as the top "aesthetic" layer in the sheet mulch system.

Hope this gives you some ideas 

Cheers J

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Loong & Jandtaa, thankyou very much for your replys,

I see Loongs reply before i went to the farm today, i collected 2 big bags of bamboo leaves and spread out on 1 raised salad bed, this was over the rotted manure i dug in and some more well rotted pig manure, then gave it a good soaking, I want to do this before the real rain comes along,on the hillside, big rain takes away a lot of soil.

Some very good points Jandtaa, you both have given me a plan to work to, i have all the ingredients to make some new soil for the salad beds,

Heres a few pics of the compost heaps and fruits,

The compost heap is 4 days old, when i opened it today to ad food waste, it steamed, was really hot!!, lychee trees and mango trees are full with fruit, tamarind are blooming again, and a Lizard in the bamboo plantation, weeds are growing, so all is nice on the farm now,

Cheers, Lickey..

post-41116-1238961676_thumb.jpg

post-41116-1238961699_thumb.jpg

post-41116-1238961733_thumb.jpg

post-41116-1238961765_thumb.jpg

post-41116-1238961832_thumb.jpg

post-41116-1238961872_thumb.jpg

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Hi Lickey, how's yer mulching?

I have mulched some areas and although it may not be a problem for you, it has caused problems for me because I have continued to water the same as before. The mulch has been so successful at retaining water that some of the plants have suffered from rot. I think that I have been watering, but the mulch is absorbing the water and not enough water is actually getting to the soil. I've also had some powdery mildew on the leaves.

What I have done now - Ive dug some holes about 20 cm deep about 7.5 cm across and filled with the mulch, also made sure that the mulch is at least 5cm away from the plant stem. Problem solved.

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Hi Loong, thanks for that info, im still in the experimental stage before planting, I wanted to get it started to try to prevent soil errosion on the hillside, weve had a couple of storms and a few showers, but nothing serious yet,

I considered Jandtaas advice about mulching before the rainy season, and i have come to the conclusion that a light mulch is good enough for now, once the rain stops, then a heavier mulch can be applied to help retain moisture.

My experiment is with 2 10 mtr long 1 mtr wide raised salad beds, i dug in the well hot rotted animal manure, and covered with about 4 inches of bamboo leaves, gave them a good watering and left them, ok, weve had a bit of rain, but also some very hot sunny days too, we inspected the beds last friday, without mulch, i couldnt get my fingers into it, with, well, what a difference!!, pulled back the leaves, and grabbed a handfull of nice loose dark moist soil, so ive got plans for the dry season, cant wait!! Im no tropical gardener but im learning all the time,

Loong, was it you who is looking for red wriggler worms? in todays excitement in "down on the Farm" i forgot to take some pics of these in the compost, if you want the recipe for the compost, let me know and i will post it or start a new topic, a friendly member on this forum sent me some worms in exchange for some things i had, but these live at home in the small rear garden, the farm worms appear naturally in the compost..

Cheers, Lickey..

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Lickey,

Yes, I was asking about worms before.

I have now found a few small red worms in my compost heap, I don't know how they got there, but they've arrived. Also the mulching and digging in of humus has encouraged the return of the earthworm as I'm starting to find them again.

I don't know why, but maybe the work that I've been doing has somehow made the garden less hospitable to ants, the numbers have reduced substantially. With more humus in the soil now and mulching added on top, it makes a more earthworm friendly environment. With less ants to attack them, I hope to see their numbers increase from now on.

Things are looking good

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Hi folks

Loong the rots etc were a problem for me also the first year I mulched !! Hence the decision not to mulch heavily during the wet season but apply it after the ground has dried out slightly. It really is amazing how well it will retain water, I tend to only water occasionally in the dry season and only enough to dampen down the mulch. If I have thirsty plants such as the tomato below I use an old bottle cut off the base, pierce a few holes in the cap and bury it through the mulch. This year I'm using the green manures as a "living mulch" to prevent soil erosion/compaction during the wet season as well as hopefully incorporate some nitrogen, will turn them in along with what is left of the rice straw from the previous growing season and then mulch again through the dry as usual. I'll certainly be putting more in than I'm taking out in regards to nutrients and by the time the old body starts to give out my raised beds could well be at chest height for easy maintenance :o

sh100060.jpg

^ shows the texture of the partly decomposed compost I've mentioned previously and you can just make out the finer texture of the homemade potting compost that the tom is planted in.

sh100063.jpg

^ rice straw completes my mulch layer and the bottle provides an easy watering solution. 

Cheers for now J

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Nice to hear from you again Jandtaa,

That's a good idea with the plastic bottle. I wish that I had thought about that. Because my soil compacts so readily, it's always been difficult to get the water to actually penetrate. I'm hoping that once there is enough humus incorporated in the soil, that will be one problem solved. Earthworms returning will help as well.

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Has anybody heard of Hugelkultur before, or even tried it? I was searching what to do with old logs and loads of offcuts, i dont have a chipper to make mulch but this sounds like a good idea, heres a link,

http://hubpages.com/hub/Hugelkultur-Using-...e-in-Composting If its already been posted, sorry, must have been when PC was playing up,,

Cheers, Lickey..

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We bought a pile of rice straw for mulch and we got a shiteload of rice germinating.

So the idea was to use it to stop the weeds, but we managed to grow a different one.

How do you stop this ?

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Mr Wiggle, have a look at post no 2 on this topic, Doms way is very simple and effective,many other posts to consider as well,

I had the same problem a couple of years ago, so now when we are given rice straw, it goes straight into a Hot compost heap, Just like Dom says,add a bag or 2 of animal crap,kitchen food waste,urea,and turn every 2 days or so,

I would think you have 2 choices at this stage, either rake of the straw and hot compost it, or if its a small area, just pull up the new rice growth and lay it on top of the mulch, let the sun do the work for you,

Its also good advice to hot compost animal crap, some seeds go through their stomachs undigested, if you use it fresh, you will give yourself more weeds than before,

Hope this helps, Lickey.

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