Saturday Linkages: Of Sausages, Sandbags and Cell Phones

Sandbag couch via Dornob

How to Turn an Old WWII Field Phone Into a Bluetooth Handset | The Art of Manliness

Man robs man using stolen sausage | barfblog: 

Another reason not to use cardboard as mulch:

50 seconds in Cloudbreak Barrel with Kalani Chapman

Emergency sandbags repurposed as a couch

Vinegar vs. Round-up tested:

How to Use a [BUSTED] Cell Phone to Meet 5 Basic Survival Needs | The Art of Manliness  

Happiness is a glass half empty | Oliver Burkeman

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  1. What do you recommend using for mulch rather than cardboard? We have used cardboard in the past and we don’t really have any trees so dried leaves isn’t really an option.

  2. Many cities offer free mulch made from tree trimmings–this is the source of most of our mulch. Quality will vary, even between different sources in one city. Here we found one source that tended to have a lot of trash bits in it, whereas another is excellent and we use it for everything.

    Also, professional tree trimmers may be willing to drop off a load of chipped trimmings for you.

    Or you could go to a local stables and ask if you can take a load of horse bedding. They’ll almost always say yes and please! It’s fragrant for a few days until the urine dries, but we did a lot of our initial weed smothering here with 1 foot thick applications of horse bedding.

    It’s also possible to use straw for mulch–a bale doesn’t cost too much and goes a long way. It can be kind of cute in veg beds but may be a little eccentric for the entire yard!

    • Ah, I put the cart before the horse. Instead of cardboard or other barriers like newspaper or plastic we prefer to use a very thick layer of organic matter. Thick! Like I said above, we use very deep layers to control weeds–6″ at least, more like a 1 foot is better.

      If the mulch layer is deep enough it will either completely discourage weeds or make those few that poke through very easy to pull. It also allows lots of free exchange of water and air with the soil, which is important.

  3. I’m always leery about city mulch. When they collect yard waste from every household and compost it with the city’s tree trimmings, you get people’s pesticides and herbicides and whatnot mixed in and concentrated. And my mother-in-law, a horse person, advised me not to use horse manure. Horses get a lot of medication, including antibiotics. Ends up in the manure.
    If you see a tree trimmer go past in your neighborhood, you could ask for their shredded trees. But make sure they haven’t been grinding up eucalyptus or black walnut(I think?) or any other tree whose leaves are poisonous to other plants (can’t remember the term for this). and make sure they haven’t ground up any conifers because they might be infected with pine beetles.

    The best mulch is the mulch we make ourselves, I’m afraid.

    • Rena, thanks for your comment. There’s a lot to what you say, but I’d argue that it is possible to source safe–or safe-ish mulch.

      I’d say you certainly need to practice due diligence and beyond that, decide what your standards for purity are–this will vary by person and by situation.

      Although I’d also say that keeping your garden a closed loop by making your own mulch (and compost) is a fantastic thing. It’s an ideal gardening practice, really. But sometimes we can’t do that, and then we’re left with resources at large, because mulch is too important to pass up on.

      City mulch can indeed vary in quality, but it’s possible to find good stuff. We really like our local Griffith Park mulch. This mulch is sourced out of LA’s biggest city park, not the city at large, and is very clean and nice. It’s mostly shredded tree bits and trees are not commonly treated with pesticides or herbicides. So look for mulch that is tree based–from a park or the city tree trimming program or from friendly tree trimmers. Generally speaking I’d say tree-based mulch is pretty safe in that sense.

      But yes, you should inquire as to your mulch sources and ingredients.

      You mention the concern about the pine beetle. True. And there may be other localized pests or diseases that people should watch out for, depending on where they live. If you know a tree disease has arrived in your city, and you have a tree of that type in your yard, you’re going to want to be extra careful.

      One think I’m not much worried about in terms of mulch is allieopathy–I think that’s the world you were looking for.

      Some trees, like black walnut and eucalyptus, are indeed hostile to other trees–but remember that much of their alliopathic action is underground, in substances put out by their roots. The action of the leaves is not as extreme, nor is it everlasting. We have two native pecans in our yard, and they are alliopaths, so we have a lot of experience with this. It would probably not be a good idea to mulch exclusively with alliopath leaves, but it won’t hurt to have some in the mix.

      True confession: Before I discovered that the pecans were alliopathic I used their leaves to mulch our veg. beds!!!! It didn’t seem to harm the harvest, but I don’t do it anymore.

      And here again, context matters some. I’d be less inclined to put alliopath leaves in my *compost*, because I want that to be as “growth positive” as possible, but *mulch* is often put down to discourage weed growth, and so in that case any lingering effects seem almost like benefits.

      Now on stable bedding. There’s a couple of things to consider. First, you may be able to ask at the stables how they treat their horses for illness. We found a stable which uses holistic treatment. There’s probably a range of practices at stables and you can negotiate your way around that.

      Second, there’s the issue of proportion and threat. How many horses in the stable are likely to be receiving meds at any one time? How many of those meds are problematic in a garden? How much of that ends up in their poo? How much of the medicated poo ends up in your mix, compared to non-medicated poo?

      Third, a lot of that stuff breaks down very quickly on exposure to heat and light and bacteria.

      I guess its just a matter of assessing risk and weighing benefits and making your own decision.

      As the years go by, I become more and more aware of the extent that our natural world has been comprised by human action. To put it bluntly, everything is polluted. Air, water, soil–even our own blood. What gives me faith, though, is that I know that nature is strong and resilient and really good at work-arounds.

  4. I offer my medication-free, free-ranged chicken leavings from a 10×10 pen and from their one nest box to people for gardens. The hens have scratched it until it can no longer be regognized as leaves. Can you believe they turn it down, saying they prefer to buy a plastic-filled bag at Lowe’s? Or, they ask me to rake, bag, and deliver. No

    I give very explicit instructions to anyone who rakes my leaves not to get the black walnut leaves in with the oak leaves. However, considering the size of the tree and close proximity to all the oaks, I often assume it is futile to try to keep the black walnut leaves away from plants. Maybe I have wasted my breath?

    How far away from the black walnut should I keep inground plants?

    • “How far away from the black walnut should I keep inground plants?”

      You know best–you’ve lived with them, you’ve seen what grows and doesn’t. With our pecans many things seem to do just fine directly under them. They are so big that I can assume their roots stretch all over our yard, but we grow a lot of stuff. However, whenever something dies it can conveniently be blamed on the pecans.

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