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Monday, November 2, 2015

Mulching Trees

Took me less than an hour to winter wrap my 16 trees and a couple of hours to mulch them. This leads me to believe that on a one woman scale, I can  probably more or less triple the number of trees and still care for them individually.  Maybe about 50 trees total?  And, perhaps, as I become more experienced, I will learn some tricks that will allow me to double that?  Anyway, here is my process.  Keep in mind, I did this once already, when I planted them, but with much finer mulch.  With the warm sunny days combined with lots of rain, the attack of the grass is never ending.  Several times during the summer I "chopped and dropped" the grass and other weeds; therefore, between the decomposition of the finer mulch and the attack of the grass, signs of the old cardboard & mulch are difficult to find.  Details of how I mulch below.

Farm dogs are good for guarding against zombie bunnies.

The city will load your truck or trailer for free if you don't have a cover for it.  Alas, I do have a cover on the bed of my truck, so all of this was hand loaded.  The windrows of mulch are at least as tall as a  house, so I back the truck in with the lid up and the tailgate down until the tailgate is a few inches into the mound.  I then take a stiff rake and essentially help gravity move the mulch into the truck.  Once home, I unloaded it onto a tarp near the garden and fruit trees.  Later on, when about half the mulch has been used, I will be able to drag the tarp about 100 feet so that it will be near my windbreak trees for the balance of use.  The pile looks so small for being a pickup truck full.  I was concerned that I would not be able to mulch all 16 trees, and I was right.  The last tree definitely got skimped on a bit.

This is what a pickup truck of mulch looks like.

This is what one of my apple trees looked like pre-mulching.  You can see the dry grass from the last time I cut it down.  The dry grass is a few inches thick and provides its own kind of mulch.

Before mulching.

First a layer of cardboard.  I'm not particular what kind.  I leave the tape and labels on it.  I would put a thicker layer of cardboard, but with 16 trees, I was kind of lean on cardboard, too.  A six inch deep layer of mulch over the cardboard should keep the weeds from coming through even after the cardboard decomposes.  The photo below shows a tree half-done.  Note that I do not put the cardboard or the mulch right up against the trunk of the tree, but aim to keep it about 6 inches away.

My favorite non-organic drink.  Not a purest, here.
This activity was timed to happen the morning before a drenching rain with the idea that the rain would settle the cardboard and mulch and mold it to the shape of the land.  Most of the windbreak trees did not get a full 6 inches of compost on them.  I think another trip to the city this week is probably in order.  The plan is to keep expanding the mulch to each tree's drip line as they grow.

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