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Grass Clippings

The Riff-Raff Element

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The time of year has been reached when I once again have an

embarassment of grass clippings. I have been able to incorporate

limited amounts into composting in the past, but the balance always

ends up in an ever-growing pile in one corner of the garden.

I am always reluctant to take any potentially useful organic waste to

the décheterie, so  I would be very keen to learn of some other

use. I had thought about using them a mulch around potato plants - has

anyone ever tried this, and if so, did it work well? Are there any

other uses that they could be put to?

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You can use grass clippings to mulch pretty much anything -- my Dad simply spreads his around flowers, shrubs, whatever, and they all do extremely well. They should be particularly useful around any foliage plants or green veg (cabbages, lettuce) since they are high in nitrogen. Alternatively you could take off the mower collector and just spread the clippings back onto the lawn to feed the worms & the grass, so long as the grass you're cutting isn't too long.
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Thanks for the replies. The problem, JC, with composting them is that a

point is reached when I have insufficient other material to mix them

with. Then they just form a dense, slimy layer in the compost heap (I

call this a "Gummer" layer after one of my favourite politicos) and

don't decompose further.

I don't think that weed clippings should present any problems provided that the weeds were not in seed when cut.

I think what I am going to try based on Golem's dad's idea is use them

to mulch the spuds and then incorporate them into the soil as I mound

up. Hopefully they will improve the soil as well as acting as a mulch.

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If you grew your potatoes the way I do, on top of the ground covered in straw, you can then use the grass cuttings to put around the plants after they have pushed through and then keep this going. This prevents the light reaching the spuds and conserves moisture.

I really recommend this method, nice clean spuds, no digging and I have found that it increases yield. Potatoes don't actually grow in the ground to any depth and will often grow naturally half in and half out of the soil.

Try it, even if you only make a small test patch the first time.


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Thanks again for the further suggestions - I shall certainly try the

newspaper idea and shall be careful not to scorch my precious potatoes

(precious to me anyway - I can never get over how much food stuff it is

possible to produce from a small, unpromising looking, piece of ground).

Chris - I've come across the no-dig approach and have heard similar

good reports about it. All my seed potatoes are in the ground, but I

will give it try next year. The piece of ground I use as a vegetable

patch was previously a vinyard (not one worth keeping) and the soil was

in a dreadful state, so I've spent the last few years improving it by

digging in as much organic matter as I can. The deep cultivation needed

for the traditional growing of potatoes has been very helpful in this,

but I reckon the ground is good enough now to try a method involving a

bit less effort!

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  • 4 weeks later...
My maincrops are about 6 inches up and around now - is it to late to put straw around them, i.e. are they supposed to grow through the straw, or do you just chuck it on top when they first appear, or do you place it carefully around them?  I've got a load of straw bales to get rid of - how deep do you put it?


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  • 2 weeks later...
I'm increasing the number of compost heaps i've got going this year, and mixing the grass cuttings with shredded paper.  I've also soaked a few cardboard boxes in water and put that in as well.  But the temperature is hotter than I've ever known before(in the compost heap),  I've turned the first complete mixture, started six to seven weeks ago, a few times, and I think it might almost be ready!
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 For most of my clients with 'nicer' lawns I use a set of mulching blades on my mowers. These are double blades basicaly and cut grass much finer and so it tends to decompose quicker and drop ito the grass without rotting on top of it.

They cost me 80euros a set so I never use them on bumpy lawns or first time cuts as they are so expensive to replace.The plus side is that I don't have to lift the cuttings so saving the client money and the cuttings are very good for the soil creating a positive thatch that holds in moisture whilst adding nutrients.

You do need a powerfull mower and in the wet it can clog easily but it is a 'green' way to go.

Composting clippings on mass can cause anaerobic decomposition through lack of air thus creating a slimey morass so the simple addition of anything else that can add oxygen from turning the pile (hard work) to adding sand and other varied organic materials.

As for using as a mulch... fine generally but I would avoid potatoes as they are at risk from the phytophora fungus (blight) which may be encouraged by rotting materials.

 Turning any heap and adding a variety of other materials possibly the best way to ensure good decomposition.

I also mulch hedge cuttings but with a set of normal blades. This works very well indeed for incorporating into the heap with grass.

 Oh I do love compost!

I even collect my own urine to act as an accelerator but don't tell my girlfriend....

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Hello I use my grass clippings as a mulch around almost everything as it helps to keep the weeds down in the beds plus it keeps the moisture in the soil when it gets hot, also I have chickens so i let them play in it before i compost it as they help to break it down. have a ask around neighbours friends who dont have lawns they might want some to add to there compost?( im assuming everyone in the world compost) if you have some where where you can dry it out in the sun it can then be used under strawberry plants and flooring for pet cages, in fact im just off to publish 101 things to do with grass clippings there has to be a book in this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! happy gardening
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The straw / grass method for potatoes is so simple and effective that I can't really understand why it isn't the "norm".

Scuff the soil a little, don't dig.

Either place the seed potatoes on the surface or just make small hollows for them.

Cover with straw to a height of about 20 or 30 centimetres.

When the potato plants push through by about 15 centimetres, stuff grass cuttings or more straw round them leaving the top leaves showing.

Steal young potatoes by pulling the straw back, and / or harvest by removing straw, you may have to rummage around a bit as some of the potatoes will be just in the soil.

I only grow organically, no big surprise there, I never have any pest or disease problems that I can't deal with easily, unlike it would seem all the people who reach for the chemicals, but there can be no half measures and creating the environment may take a few years. Blight is airborne and arrives with periods of cold rain and heavy overcast skies, rather like we have at present in some parts of France. There is no strictly organic means to deal with this and Bordeaux Mixture is the only means to deal with it, the main argument against Bordeaux Mixture was the possibility of copper toxicity in the soil, only really likely to occur in intensive agricultural systems with no rotation. Most soils that have had crops grown on them for the last 50 years are in fact copper deficient at best.

If you haven't tried growing your spuds this way, give it a go, Chris



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Following an earlier post of yours on the subject I'm trying your mulch method on the potatoes - unfortunately they were already planted and growing away when you wrote about it, so I'm just doing the mulhcing part - next year I'll try the surface planting as well.  Thanks for the tip.


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