When I first started my veggie garden I used lucerne to mulch, mostly because it was readily available from Bunnings. At $25 a (smallish) bail it wasn’t cheap, but the benefits were enormous. It suppressed weeds, protected the soil and added much-needed nutrients. Lucerne is high in nitrogen, so it breaks down quickly to enrich the soil with extra organic matter. The drawback of course is that it breaks down fast, so needs to be topped-up regularly.
Over the past 6 months however it hasn’t been available. Instead there has been a proliferation of cheap sugar cane mulch. It is cheap at $16 a bail, and breaks down slowly so it doesn’t need replenishing as often. I assume people must love it for that reason, but I was getting pretty sick of it really. I had mulched under my artichokes in January, and now in late November it still hadn’t broken down. The soil was looking depleted and crumbly.
Here’s where I am super-lucky that my parents live in a rural area. I asked them to keep an eye out for lucerne, and they came through with the goods. They brought down a huge bail of lucerne hay, sourced from their local stock feed place for the bargain price of $15.
They brought it down over the weekend. It wasn’t exactly like the lucerne mulch I used to get because it isn’t chopped up. It comes off the bail in sheets/layers, and for that reason it is more difficult to spread out.
But for $15, I had enough nitrogen-rich mulch to cover most of my veggie beds. I went crazy around the banana tree in particular, because I really, really want fruit this year – did you hear that, banana? It’s putting out new leaves before the previous ones have even unfurled, to I think it’s looking good.
I’ve heard that unlike sugar cane, lucerne tends to carry more weed seeds. I think I can live with this considering the benefits, but I’ll let you know how I find it.