Yes! It’s finally done!
We’ve broken down and removed the straw bale we got for mulch last year.
It’s amazing just how much material is packed into a round bale.
The girls continued taking wheel barrows of straw to the garden until the core was small enough to tip over and roll away.
There was still plenty left behind, of course.
Despite rolling against the grain, it still left a trail, all the way to the garden. 😀
Note in the above photo, how wide the mulched area in the garden is. We’ve already widened it on one side a bit, since we last worked on it.
Once in place, the core could simply be unrolled, leaving behind a thick enough layer that it only needed to be tamped down in places.
You can really see the difference between what was the bottom of the bale and the top; the part that was touching the ground is still tightly wrapped, and already starting to decompose, while the top is much looser, as it had room to spread while we took layers off to cover the septic tank and mulch the old kitchen garden.
This is where the bale sat all winter. When it was first moved, and my daughter was raking up what was left behind to haul away, she noticed lots of worms. When I was transplanting the raspberries, I noticed plenty of worms, too. This is a good sign!
This area behind the house is very spotty as far as how the grass is going, with the area closest to the house having almost no grass at all. So we’re not too worried about the grass that was under the bale; we’ll need to find some shade hardy grass seed for the area, anyhow.
And here we have the mulched garden area for next year. In the foreground, to the left, is a big gooseberry bush that I hope will actually produce some berries this year. Next to it is a chokecherry, then where the raspberries were transplanted, a crab apple tree, and the compost. Which, I discovered as I tried to turn it, was used for garbage at some point, as I found pieces of food tray foam and the remains of a plastic tray that held transplants. Plus, lots of branches, still. This is where a pile of pruned branches and cut back trees were piled, then moved to the middle of the garden, before we moved here. The plan had been to burn them – yes, even when it was right on the compost pile, under that apple tree! – but we broke it down and moved it manually, last spring. We’ll have fire pit fuel for a long time, just from that one pile!
The next steps for the mulched garden area is to “frame” it with some of those logs we have from getting the trees cleared. The idea is to keep the straw from being dragged around with our feet as we work in it. Other material will be added to it, to build up the layers and improve that rock-hard soil. Covering it all with landscape cloth to prevent the grass and weeds from growing through the mulch would be good, if we can get enough to cover the whole area.
We’re getting a pretty decent sized garden out of this! Obviously, nothing close to what it was before, but we can amend and re-claim sections of it, little by little, over the years, while planning out where we want to put more permanent plantings.
Slowly but surely, we’ll get it done! 🙂