Good Gravy! Grass clippings at work

Tasi Livermont's 2012 garden using grass clippings and old newspapers for mulch. Photo by Tasiyagnunpa Livermont

Tasi Livermont’s 2012 garden using grass clippings and old newspapers for mulch. Photo by Tasiyagnunpa Livermont

Want to cut your time weeding by at least half plus drastically improve the condition of the soil in your garden?

How about use less water?

The practice of mulching is well-known to some gardeners and less well-known to others, but the idea of mulching with grass clippings is almost unheard of.

Since beginning to educate myself on sustainable living and food production at a household level, I have kept my eye out for practices that are easily done by those without a lot of cash to invest.

Increasing my family’s food security is even more important when one doesn’t have a lot of cash to spend on expensive organic and gourmet products.

When a person is starting out developing one’s green thumb, basic tools must be purchased and plenty of time researching is done. Spending money on more than the basics can keep plenty of people from even trying to grow their own fruits and vegetables.

Mulching, the practice of spreading natural or manufactured material around growing plants, can be expensive if you use landscape fabric, fancy wood chips or garden paper products.

I first heard of mulching with grass clippings while visiting Glacial Lakes Permaculture in Estelline, SD.

Karl Schmidt had received a USDA grant to test different types of mulch materials in a hoophouse.

The experiment included various varieties of peppers and alternated plots with a special paper sheet mulch on half of the plants with the other half mulched with grass clippings mown from his own yard.

Not only did the grass clippings fare as well as the manufactured garden paper, but it actually did better at controlling weeds!

Last summer, I finally had the chance to try it myself.

With the drought, I only was able to apply two layers of grass clippings, so I used some old newspapers to keep the clippings in place and provide the soil more protection.

Two weeks ago, I pulled back the slowly decaying newspaper and began to work that same soil. While I knew what to expect, my own eyes were absolutely shocked at the quality of the soil.

What had been nothing but clay is now crumbly and so much richer in organic materials.

How did I do the nitty-gritty of planting, applying mulch, keeping mulch in place and more?

Find out by attending the Soiled Hands Society’s June Garden Party and Meeting, Wednesday, June 5 at our home in Eagle Butte. For location and details, call (605) 200-1408.

If you miss the June 5th event, call anyways to see this applied to one of the area gardens that Soiled Hands Society is volunteering with and get your own hands dirty!