This topic contains 3 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by Anonymous 8 years, 9 months ago.
April 18, 2008 at 1:38 pm #27660
I’m just a beginning gardener. I have three perennial gardens in Oak Park, Illinois. Two are about three years old and one is just a year old. The love of gardening has definitely grown over the past years. I don’t stress, and know I will make mistakes.
My question for you – what is your take on Cocoa shells as mulch? I tried using them in one of my gardens last year. I loved the chocolate smell that wafted through the air. The cocoa shells were easy to spread, much lighter than your typical mulch. I probably lost about 25% of the spread, as it tended to get picked up in the wind. I was also aware of some of the concerns of the cocoa shells being dangerous to dogs, but was not an issue for my location.
I’m considering using this type of mulch in my gardens this year, but wonder what the experienced garden experts think.
Leigh AnnApril 8, 2010 at 5:51 pm #29323
Hi, all! I’m about to have a large oak tree removed and the stump ground. The arborist says the grindings from the tree will be the best mulch I can find. My neighbor says I need to wait a year before applying it to any garden. I’m planning to wheelbarrow it to my back yard for “storage” until I get my raised beds and retaining walls built, then use it in the fall to fill “no-till” beds. What else should I add to be able to plant next spring?April 9, 2010 at 11:26 am #29330
@Stacey: Add lots of three things: Compost, compost and compost. :) Seriously, you need humus (broken-down organic materials that was once leaves or other plant material and manures and so on, all nice and composted now) to improve the “tilth” of your soil and its moisture-holding capacity. Definitely start collecting and composting leaves (you can mow over the piles to pre-shred them and speed decomposition) or inquire whether a local collection site offer free leaf mold and other composted materials you can get lots of and work in.
@Accidentalartisan: I am all about pre-composted mulches…nothing raw used here (especially not fresh wood chips). Definitely age them first. My mulch FAQ pages goes into detail:
As for using wood chips (even aged one) to fill “no-till” beds, hmmm…do you mean on the very top as the final layer of mulch? Not as the growing medium, I presume. Even Ruth Stout (famed no-till type who mulched nonstop) didn’t heap up the chips as I understand her method, but rather used other garden wastes that would break down nicely in the the underlying soil. Read about her here:April 12, 2010 at 12:31 am #29344
All this sounds great. Actually, I’ll be building up beds in my tiered (terraced?) back yard and need a lot of fill. I was thinking about filling the bottom with the wood shavings and leaves (we have a lot of leaves available from a variety of trees on the property). This is just the beginning of a very long process (probably 5 to 10 years to complete); I just don’t want to lose anything useable I have for free! Thanks for the links! Off to read… -jj the aa.
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