Using permaculture ethics & design principles to transform an old energy guzzling bungalow into a showcase of sustainable design. It's about energy cycling, building community, self-reliance,creatively using & reusing materials... all without spending heaps of money.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Free mulch

Principle 5: Use and value renewable resources and services
Principle 8: Integrate rather than segregate

Powerline maintenance crew drop off a load of mulch
Each year the electricty provider sends out a crew to prune trees that are getting too close to the overhead power cables. I noticed them doing this recently, leaving branches on the nature strip. A couple of days later I heard a large mulcher at work, and went outside to watch. When the workers were finished I asked them if they wanted a place to unload their mulch. When they were next in the area with a near full load, they did just that.
During the drought, a few dollars was handed over for the favour, but since we've had wetter weather noone seems to want mulch anymore. I got this load delivered for free. Can't get better than that!
With the rains constantly filling the infiltration basins around the garden beds I was having difficulty accessing the beds to harvest vegetables and maintain them. I was thinking of draining the water out of them during the wet season and damming the overflow drying the dry. Laying thick mulch over the paths was a good alternative solution, covering the water which would soak into the material and reduce evaporation during the dry season. The mulch will break down over time and may used in the garden, replaced by more when available - possibly next year when the maintenance crew return.
I didn't quite realise how much there was until I started to move it. I had enough to cover every path around the house, and some garden beds. I avoided mulching right up to the house as it may attract termites. It looks quite neat now, and shows clearly just how much space is used up as paths. I'd like the garden beds to encroach into this space more.

Mulch laid on thickly to cover and soak up water on infiltration basins

Mulched path and infiltration basin provides better access and reduces risk of mosquito breeding