In the Garden: Wool!

That’s right!  This year we have a wooly vegetable garden.

I was lucky enough to be able to grab a bag of skirting after the sheep were sheared at Juniper Moon Farm the other day, and I am thrilled to be using it in the garden.

“Skirting” is the icky bits of the fleece that are so soaked in urine and feces that they cannot be sent to the mill for processing into yarn or roving (such as the wool surrounding the animal’s back end).  It’s the waste bits and they are pretty much garbage.  Thankfully, they can be composted or used in the garden directly as mulch.

I’ve been using some straw to mulch the areas where I have sown seeds directly into the soil (beets, carrots, onions, chard) and the little sprouts are still fragile so I didn’t use wool there.  With some of the hardier squash transplants I have made a light circle of wool around the base and spread out enough to discourage weeds close to the plants.

But where the wool is making the biggest difference for me is at the borders of the beds where the weeds like to encroach and I can’t properly weed-whack them.

The best part is (actually, there are so many “best” parts it’s ridiculous) that the manure-y stuff stuck to the wool will help keep the soil and plants fertilized.  AND once the growing season is over you can till the wool mulch right into the soil.  See? It’s brilliant!

My garden looks pretty funny and  odd right about now – I’ve not completed the mulching process entirely.  I have only mulched around the edges a bit and around the current plants that are growing.  I have a lot more transplants waiting to go outside once it stays reliably warm enough (tomatoes are pretty delicate and we’re still getting down into the 40’s at night), and once they are in the ground they’ll be mulched with the wool as well.

For now it’s a patchwork of wool, mud and straw.  But it’s getting there.