So far this year (season 1 for the farm) each planting bed has been mulched with hay and/or straw purchased from a local farm supply company. However, buying mulch this way can get to be quite expensive. So starting this spring experiments in growing grain and grass crops specifically for use as mulch will begin.
Once the soil has reached a nighttime temperature of 60 degrees, the existing Rye grass (known as winter rye, annual rye, or cereal rye) will be cut and collected to be used as mulch or be added to the compost pile. Then a 50/50 mix of Browntop millet and Sudangrass will be broadcast over the rye stubble. A garden rake or aerator may be used to gently cover the seed to a depth of ¼”. The millet should germinate quickly. The Sudangrass will produce massive root growth. Both will aid in preventing soil erosion which is important as the field sits on a southerly slope.
This grain/grass mixture will be harvested several times throughout the growing season right up to the first frost. The harvested mulch can be added directly to the planting beds, it can be added to the compost pile, or it can be dried and stored for future use. Harvest at a height of 30″-40″ making sure to leave a 6″ stubble each time. Just before the first expected frost cut the mulch to ground level. Rye grass can then be broadcast directly over the existing plant matter to begin all over again next year.