Any recomendations? Pea straw is expensive. How about shredded paper? Will this rot down quickly enough? It is for my veg bed and eventually I want to be able to dig it in. Why is pea straw so reccomended by so many?

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Most landscape suppliers have bulk compost, wood chips or bark at good prices per cubic metre. Many supply loan trailers. Wood and bark mulches can result in nitrogen deficiency if not allowed to decay in their own good time.

I produce a lot of compost for mulching by shredding and composting everything not bolted down. A shredder is a big help for this but good ones aren't cheap.

I couldnt agree more I now have an old hand shredder mounted by the compost bin and everything that goes in the compost goes through it first.

This year I have produced the best compost ive ever produced, pesky Brassica stems that never seemed to rot down are now rich black compost in a matter of weeks.

This I am finding is the perfect mulch for my garden. In the past having a few trees that need annual pruning to keep them in line was valuable too as the branches were put straight through the electric mulcher and straight on to the garden, no cost really apart from some labor and the initial cost of the mulcher, which by the way I feel is the best investmesnt ive ever made considering what it cost to dump rubbish at the refuge station.

What does your hand shredder look like?  Is it homemade  or purchased?

Hi Rex

It was purchased about 25 years ago, it is basicly a hopper with a handle cranked hand mower blade no good for big stuff but works extrmely well on the average grden and kitchen waste ill try and get hold of a camera a put a pic up.

Would be great to see a pic thanks
if i have large areas and primary reason to mulch is to keep weed growth down and conserve moisture (rather than add nutrients to the soil) then i put a thick layer of newspaper down (or flattened cardboard) first, then use the more expensive mulch (to make it look better primarily) as just a thin layer on top. if on a slope then i pin the newspaper/cardboard down with short weed pins (buy in 100 quantity lots from an agriculutural supply store).

if you have the space grow canna lilies and then chop them off at the base each autumn for free mulch. i just lay them on the ground without shredding.

phone around but the last time i needed it the cheapest suppliers of bulk wood chip were arborist companies. i tend to leave this to rot down for 6 months to a year in a pile to reduce probems as per alan's reply.

Comfrey is another good thing to grow as it rots down really well as a mulch under trees and gives a mountianous amount of nutrients back to the soil pulled up from the lower areas as the roots penetrate deep.

Just be aware Comfrey can get a little, heck what do i mean - alot, invasive if it allowed to rule the roost.

A layer at the bottom of your potate trench before you plant works wunders in providing the nutrients fora good crop.

I have been using Pampas grass that's been through a shredder. Ask you local council if they are removing any as they usually shred it on the spot and you just need to go collect. It's the best I have found, and cheap!
I find that soaking shredded newspaper in Ocean Organics Fertiliser works really well on both vegies and ornamentals. You make a mix up of "Seaweed Soil" 1:100 with water and then drop in all your shredded paper / newspaper and then place that around your plants/seedlings. The fertiliser leeches into the soil and the shredded paper can definitely be dug into the soil. This helps to prevent any mineral deficiencies in the soil as the seaweed fertiliser helps to prevent any soil borne disease and unlocks the soil’s own micronutrients. It also builds up each plants own immune system and encourages vibrant healthy growth all round.
pea straw is recommended as it has a very high easily/quickly composted biomass and is generally high in nitrogen, compared with other straw, as it is from a legume. it is a wholeplant straw, rather than a stalks only type. lucern hay is similarly good, although less compostable. downside of peastraw is that you can get peas germinating throughout your garden, it can be messy and the birds like playing in it, moving it around and using it for house building! some people mulsh it first through a garden mulsher to reduce the bird issues.
i use mushroom compost,(often layed on top of many layers of newspaper) as it is quite cheap, readily available, and weed free. it seems to work both as a soil conditioner (when dug in), for sandy or clay soils and as a weed suppressent and it looks good. the reason i am such a fan is, i live in a dry area, and it is great at retaining moisture. this may not be such a benefit in an area with a lot more rainfall than canterbury. All that and it is recycling too!
A good explanation of Pea Straw - thank you.

My issue with it though is the miles (carbon) which it costs to get it to us. There's no pea straw anywhere near us on Waiheke, and though I could buy it from the local hardware/garden supplier, it has has been transported a long way to arrive here.

minx said:
pea straw is recommended as it has a very high easily/quickly composted biomass and is generally high in nitrogen, compared with other straw, as it is from a legume. it is a wholeplant straw, rather than a stalks only type.
I have an equestrian centre nearby who use untreated wood shavings in the stables. The clean out is left in piles and seems to have broken down really well. It was free! although I took a box of chockies for the man with a tractor. saved me digging it onto the truck.

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