Mulch & Bluebirds

(From SFJ Volume 36 Number 2) Eric and Ann Nordell’s Grow Your Own Mulch sidebar article. “To weatherproof more of the market garden in 2011, we tried a variation on the grow-your-own mulch system we developed for producing winter squash in the fallow fields. We discovered it was possible to mulch row crops like tomatoes, peppers, carrots, onions and leeks by moving windrows of rye into the pathways. Although awkward to handle at first, we soon got the hang of picking up an 8-10’ length of twisted rye straw in our arms and walking it from the fallow lands into the adjacent vegetable field.

We used 10’ wide swaths of rye for mulching each side of the winter squash planted under the row cover. Over the rest of the field, we windrowed 5’ wide swaths of the cover crop to mulch the vegetables conveniently planted along the edge of the adjoining produce field.

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THE BLUEBIRD OF HAPPINESS has returned from the brink in many places, thanks to folks who give them habitat and boxes to nest in. But they can be picky. If you put one on every fencepost, most of them will stay empty—bluebirds are so territorial. Better to space them 150 yards apart, in open country. With wood shavings inside, turned away from prevailing winds, with a hole that is exactly one and a half inches in diameter, to keep out starlings and cowbirds. –PH