Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Benefits of Branches (prunings)

Most of us know that prunings can generally be used in the garden.  As mulch.  Sometimes as stakes if you strip them down.  But if you don't have a mulcher, then it's not as easy, and a mulcher uses power etc.  I have found that when I prune the mulberry (for the sake of neighbourly relations), I lay the mulberry prunings down under the mulberry tree and by the time the tree is next due a prune, they're just not there any more.  Mmm... so that's good.

But there's more than just the 'back into the earth' benefit of prunings.  I found they're good to keep chooks off certain areas.  For example, there's self sewn melon/pumpkin plants coming up under the apples and the peach/plum/avacado/ area.  Usually in their scratching efforts (we have almost zero weed issues out the back thanks to the girls) they accidentally kick up the plant, exposing the roots and it dies.

So it happened that we had some grevillea prunings from when Mum was down and did some pruning (thanks Mum!).  They got placed around the garden and then later I spread them out, over the top of the new pumpkin/melon seedlings.  The result is that the chooks didn't go near them (the prunings haven't collapsed much, they're quite 'bushy' and not comfortable to walk on or be in), the seedlings have gotten settled and taken off.

The second benefit is that it keeps the ground cooler and provides some shade for the seedlings when they're little.  More than just mulch alone (the area is mulched as well).  I have an old wheelbarrow with seedlings in now, with a branch over the top to keep the chooks out of it (it's low enough they can flap up there) and for some shade for the seedlings and they're doing great despite the 40+ days we've had for several days now.

Thirdly, it keeps melons and pumpkins off the ground - the plant creeps and sprawls out and the 'fruit' either sits on top of the prunings or hangs under.

So it's not that pretty to look at, but considering the benefits of the prunings, more than happy to wait a few weeks until the melon/pumpkin vines take over and make the area lovely and green.  By the time the melon/pumpkins are finished, the prunings will have broken down quite a bit and it will hopefully have worked well.


tricia said...

Great idea. I'll remember this.

I've been using fallen branches in a similar way - but in our bushland area to protect small native shrubs that I like from roo grazing and trampling.

Linda said...

Ha ha! Our chooks must be naughtier than yours! It's a great idea and I'm glad it's working for you. Sadly even largish branches didn't stop our chooks kicking our mulch from under the fruit trees. We've put chook wire under them all so that we can let our chooks free range.

Kristy said...

very determined chooks you have! lol I think if ours wanted to they probably could but the kids like to go out and hand feed them and they are happy to scratch around elsewhere so I guess for now their options are open enough.

I had heard of the chicken wire but wondered do their claws catch ie rip/bleed? (Just in case my girls do get more tricky and I need a 'plan b' lol) :)

Kristy said...

Tricia I hope it works for you - not sure if roos might be more cheeky than chooks - let me know how you go?

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