Growing your own mulch with pine trees
favorite part of Sara McDonald's One
Acre Homestead was
the idea of
growing our own mulch by planting a small pine plantation. Sara
notes that a 10-year-old pine forest can produce 125 to 200 bales of
needles per acre, with each bale covering 120 square feet (and with
yields increasing as the trees mature further). You should give
the trees two years off between mulch-gathering, though, so I estimate
my blueberry patch would need the mulch from about 0.3 acres filled
with 21 white pines.
For the last six years, Mark
and I have been focusing on what
permaculture practitioners refer to as zones 1 and 2 and what I call
our "core homestead," which covers a bit over one acre. I do
have visions for forest pastures ringing our core
homestead...eventually...and I could see a pine pasture doing
double duty as mulch producer and shady summer chicken pasture.
On the other hand, we've still got areas within our core homestead that
haven't quite been reclaimed from the weeds and turned into productive
growing space, and those areas always come first.
Still, I'll be adding
the pine tree idea to other options I've tossed around for growing our
own mulch. Oats
as a fall cover crop
work well for the beds they're planted on and chop-'n-drop species are possibilities in
the forest garden. Meanwhile, I'll just keep raking
leaves out of the woods, flagging down the wood chip guys whenever I see them,
and buying straw. What's your favorite
way to complete the loop with farm-grown mulch?
The Avian Aqua Miser is a POOP-free waterer to
put the fun back into chicken-keeping.
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