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I used to use grass clippings. They are easy to get, and if you don't have enough of your own, the city dump often lets people come to get the grass clippings. Using grass is far cheaper than buying straw, although admittedly, the straw does look nicer. Wood chips are also effective, as long as you are sure that they will decompose quickly enough. But I always found weeding kind of cathartic. It was a time when I could escape from everything and everyone and have some time to myself. With the grass clippings, though, you have to be careful to make sure you aren't using clippings that were treated with potentially toxic pesticides.
Just checking out your tyres Sue. There is an interesting discussion going on at present on the Permaculture Oceania mailing list about tyre use and pollution/leaching of poisons. Some authorities say they are safe, others not. To be certified organic in Australia you aren't allowed tyres near growing areas. An Australian guy has just invented a process to break down waste tyres into their constituent parts, most of which can be recycled. I hope he makes a fortune as their disposal is a massive problem worldwide.
Anyway - I digress! Great pictures! Your garden looks wonderful - very productive and healthy. I am a big straw fan as well - in fact I have 20 bales out the back awaiting my attention, but its a bit too hot and humid here at the moment!
how did you do the potatoes?
Just lay them under the stray and not in the dirt?
Please let me know!
We tried growing potatoes in hay inside a circle of fence that was to be twice the diameter of an armlength last year and had NO LUCK. The idea was to put the potatoes on top of the ground and cover with straw (hay) until the tops came thru and then keep adding it until they reached the top of the fence, keeping it moist, but not soaked. You were supposed to be able to reach your arm thru the holes in the fence and take out potatoes as needed.
The only thing I can think of that we did wrong, was maybe not to keep it wet enough.