Archive for grinding mulch

What’s Going on at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens This Fall?

Posted in Fall, Fall Color, green gardening, How to, landscape design, my garden, sustainable living with tags , , , , , , , , on October 30, 2014 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Fall 2014 at CSGFall is a beautiful time of year in the CSG gardens, especially right now while the sugar maples are turning.

Blog followers who are also customers received an email in September letting them know that our nursery would not be selling plants this fall.  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens (“CSG”) has gotten so busy in the last five years that we have been unable to do anything besides sell plants.  By remaining closed this fall, we hoped to better prepare for spring, complete some much needed garden renovations, and make some capital improvements to our potting and shipping areas.  This post will show exactly what we have accomplished so far.

Nursery News:  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA, specializing in showy, colorful, and unusual plants for shade.  The only plants that we ship are snowdrops and miniature hostas.  For catalogues and announcements of events, please send your full name, location, and phone number (for back up use only) to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

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Leaf mulch and pine needles CSGCSG uses a staggering amount of ground leaves to mulch the garden beds, and an equally large amount of pine needles to cover all of our paths.  The photo above shows our stock pile for spring once the beds have been mulched and the paths refreshed (so the actual amount required is a lot more).  The piles are about five feet high and wider than tall.  Our own massive deciduous trees provide the leaves, which we grind in the driveway with a lawnmower.  The pine needles are collected from the sides of local roads. 

We highly recommend mulching with ground leaves.  For step-by-step instructions with photos, click here.  If you don’t want to do it yourself, my son and his business Practiced Hands Gardening can supply the ground leaves and do the mulching for you.  Just email him at practicedhandsgardening@gmail.com.

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CSG Terrace Renovation Fall 2014Extensive renovations have been completed to the terrace by our front door.  The grass was removed so that we no longer have to haul a lawnmower down the narrow stone steps.  We decided to try pine needles as a replacement.  They are free and easy to install and refresh plus I like the look with the newly installed stepping stone path.  Gravel might have been more suitable from a design standpoint, but the area floods occasionally so we decided to try pine needles first.  We also added more of many of the perennials that were working and eliminated some perennials that had self-sown to  overwhelm other plants.

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CSG Rock Garden Renovation Fall 2014The back of the rock garden on the first terrace is also being renovated.  The area had filled in with vinca and self-sown garden phlox.  We are adding a lot more stones and hope to create a path through the middle for ease of viewing.

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Transplant Magnolia sieboldii Fall 2014We have moved a lot of trees and shrubs like this double Magnolia sieboldii, one of my favorites, which was planted at the bottom of the garden where the drainage is poor.  Magnolias like to be well-drained so we moved it to a drier area up by the house.

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Csg Bulbs Fall 2014Six hundred pots of perennials are planted in the fall for spring sales.  Here they are stacked next to our carport with an initial covering of ground leaves.  Eventually the cover will be six inches thick.  Some perennials do not do well in pots so we also plant a lot of stock in the ground in the fall.

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CSG Snowdrop Propagation Fall 2014Snowdrops are propagated in the fall and planted in the ground for spring sales.

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CSG Mini Hosta Propagation Fall 2014The photo above shows 21 crates containing 820 miniature hostas.  We usually only winter over  20 to 30 leftover mini hostas.  However, this year several of my wholesale hosta suppliers decided to close their businesses.  I purchased and divided extra plants in the spring of cultivars that I want to try to keep going myself only to find out in September that my main mini hosta supplier, with whom I had already placed my spring 2015 order, was going out of business.  We decided to take as much of our order as was left in stock and potted them up this fall.  At least for spring 2015, many of your favorites, including several of the mouse ears, will still be available.  Sadly, a lot of great minis like ‘Appletini’ and ‘Crumb Cake’ will no longer be available in the trade.

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DSCN5354There is a lot more to do outside, but we are also hoping to make some significant capital improvements in the carriage house to make potting the plants we grow here and shipping snowdrops and mini hostas more comfortable and efficient.  Believe it or not we have spent weeks cleaning out this area in preparation for the renovations, but there is a lot more to do.

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Fall 2014 at CSGMore of the trees that power the CSG gardens with their leaves.

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Fall 2014 at CSG.

Fall 2014 at CSG.

Enjoy fall,

Carolyn

Nursery Happenings:   You can sign up to receive notifications of catalogues, sales, and events at the nursery by sending your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a local retail nursery in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 7a. The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas and only within the US.

If you are within visiting distance and would like to receive catalogues and information about customer events, please send your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net. Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

Facebook: Carolyn’s Shade Gardens has a Facebook Page where I post single photos, garden tips, and other information that doesn’t fit into a blog post. You can look at my Facebook page here or click the Like button on my right sidebar here.

Notes: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information. If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.) or to subscribe to my blog, just click here.

Do You Know Where Your Mulch Comes From?

Posted in green gardening, How to, landscape design, organic gardening, product review, sustainable living with tags , , , , , , on June 9, 2014 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Nursery News:  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA, specializing in showy, colorful, and unusual plants for shade.  The only plants that we ship are snowdrops and miniature hostas.  For catalogues and announcements of events, please send your full name, location, and phone number (for back up use only) to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

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Moriuchi compost 5-25-2014 5-13-29 PMA pile of freshly ground mulch, but what’s in it?

My friend and longtime customer Caroline Moriuchi invited me for a guided tour of her family’s mulch production operation, M&M Mulch in Moorestown, NJ.  I jumped at the chance because I always wondered how mulch was made.  What I learned from my trip plus subsequent research is that if you don’t know what your mulch is made from, you should.

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Moriuchi compost 5-25-2014 5-07-43 PMAs you can see in this photo, M&M Mulch accepts only wood chips and brush for grinding into their high quality mulch.

M&M Mulch, which is run by Caroline’s son Seiji with the help of his father and brother, has a company policy of using only wood chips from tree services and brush from landscapers for grinding into mulch.  They will not use wooden pallets, scrap lumber, or parts of demolished buildings to produce mulch, although this is common practice in their business.  For this reason, they do not produce red-dyed mulch because it can only be made from processed lumber like pallets.  I am going to show you the Moriuchi’s mulching operation, but first I want to outline some of the dangers from pallets.

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Moriuchi compost 5-25-2014 5-36-19 PMMulch being ground at M&M Mulch

You should do your own research, but, after reading many articles, I would never use commercially produced mulch without knowing what it was made of.  The best article on the subject is in Natural Life Magazine, to read it click here

Basically, a lot of mulch is made from recycled shipping pallets.  If you drive down Interstate 95, you can see the huge pile of pallets waiting to be ground into mulch near Wilmington, DE.  A high percentage of pallets are contaminated with bacteria, including e coli and listeria, from the food transported on them and from improper storage.  They are often made from “engineered wood” which is treated with formaldehyde. 

The pallets themselves are often treated with dangerous chemicals, although this is being phased out.  If they come in from abroad, they are fumigated with toxic fungicides and pesticides, and toxic substances often spill on pallets during transportation.  Wood scraps and demolished buildings pose similar dangers from toxic applications like lead paint and pressure treated wood. 

Now we get to the fun part, how mulch is made:

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Moriuchi compost 5-25-2014 5-03-23 PMThe mulch production process starts with this very big machine, the grinder.

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Moriuchi compost 5-25-2014 5-04-43 PMThe grinder is moved around the production yard using this remote control.

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Moriuchi compost 5-25-2014 5-35-26 PM  A front end loader is a crucial piece of equipment.

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Moriuchi compost 5-25-2014 5-35-34 PM The loader scoops up the wood chips and brush from the giant piles waiting to be ground.

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Moriuchi compost 5-25-2014 5-35-54 PMThe raw material is deposited into a hopper on the grinder.

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Moriuchi compost 5-25-2014 5-06-46 PMConveyor belts inside the grinder feed the grinding teeth.

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Moriuchi compost 5-25-2014 5-37-13 PMThe grinder produces a giant pile of mulch, but the process isn’t over because most consumers demand that their mulch be dyed.  I am not sure how this process started or why dark black mulch is considered more attractive than natural brown.  I personally think black-dyed mulch is hideous.

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Moriuchi compost 5-25-2014 5-16-29 PMThe dyeing machine

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Moriuchi compost 5-25-2014 5-24-42 PMThese paddles mix the ground wood with carbon black to make it black or iron oxide to make it brown.  M&M does not produce red-dyed mulch because it can only be made from pallets.

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Moriuchi compost 5-25-2014 5-22-27 PMBlack-dyed mulch emerges from the dyeing machine.

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Moriuchi compost 5-25-2014 5-22-54 PMBlack-dyed mulch on the right, brown-dyed on the left.

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Moriuchi compost 5-25-2014 5-23-41 PMBrown-dyed mulch on the right, un-dyed mulch in front and on the left.  I think gardeners should question why they need dyed mulch.

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Thanks so much to the Moriuchis, especially Seiji who answered all my questions, for the fascinating tour.  If you live near Moorestown, New Jersey, you are very lucky to have a safe source of mulch nearby produced by the fourth generation family farmers at M&M Mulch, 400 Hartford Rd, 856-234-2394.  They deliver free to the Moorestown area and for a fee to other parts of New Jersey.  Who knows maybe they can be enticed to cross the river to Pennsylvania!

Carolyn

Nursery Happenings: The 2014 Miniature Hosta Availability for mail order and pick up at the nursery is here.   Your final chance to shop at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens will be during our open hours on Friday, June 13, and Saturday, June 14, from 10 am to 2 pm.  We close on June 15 and reopen around September 15.  You can sign up to receive notification emails by sending your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a local retail nursery in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 7a. The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas and only within the US.

If you are within visiting distance and would like to receive catalogues and information about customer events, please send your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net. Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

Facebook: Carolyn’s Shade Gardens has a Facebook Page where I post single photos, garden tips, and other information that doesn’t fit into a blog post. You can look at my Facebook page here or click the Like button on my right sidebar here.

Notes: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information. If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.) or to subscribe to my blog, just click here.

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