Not only can you skip expensive petroleum-based fertilizers and biotech chemicals to grow your best garden. But a new study explains that some of the cheapest and even free items in the world make the best organic mulch without disturbing pollinators while controlling weeds at the same time – all without chemicals like RoundUp, 2-4D, or dicamba.
For the study, which is from the American Society for Horticultural Science, researchers compared different methods of nontillage weed control methods that included the use of woodchips, covering soil with polyethylene black plastic, (most organic gardeners prefer not to use plastics since they can leach toxins into the soil) shredded newspaper, and grass clippings combined with shredded newspaper.
They measured their results against bare soil as well studying the pollination of squash plants and various fruits, along with the prominence of bee nesting.
Most people can obtain wood chips and polyethylene black plastic for a cost, but the cheapest (often free if you just save your junk mail and grass clippings when you mow your lawn) way to promote bee health while keeping weeds out of the garden ended up being newspapers and grass clippings.
It may seem surprising that such a simple combination of two ingredients could boost your organic gardens’ weed killing ability and promote pollinator insect health, but it’s true. And that’s not all these inexpensive ingredients can do.
Fewer weeds mean more fruit and vegetables, herbs, flowers, and other desirable plants. It also means that you will have to water less often since weeds won’t be choking out your favorite plants with their own growth spurts.
What’s more, it translates to less labor to realize high yields, so you can enjoy a bumper crop of tomatoes, potatoes, or peppers without having to break your back. Mulching with grass and newspaper also means that healthy bugs will prosper in your garden, and unwanted pests will be less plentiful.
Aside from utilizing cover crops, effective mulching is one of the best ways to control weeds without using carcinogenic chemicals. It also adds nutrients back to the soil so that your next crop is just as plentiful as the one you plant this season.
If you utilize both cover crops and the 2-ingredient mulch in your garden, you can expect to realize higher yields, too, as evidenced by the Rodale Institute. This one-two punch not only reduces weeds, but can also almost double your crop yields under good conditions.
While Monsanto, Dow, and Bayer try to boost profits (even as earnings fall) with chemicals that destroy our environment and eradicate pollinators like bees and butterflies, often causing good farmers to go broke in the process, cheaper, and even free ways to grow a bountiful harvest abound.