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Support Grows for Historic Renewable Energy Legislation in Massachusetts

As buyers and sellers of wood chips, often trucking large trailerloads of chips to biofuels plants, we are delighted to see our home state of Massachusetts getting on board with renewable energy. The Massachusetts Forestry Alliance, of which we are a member, has been a strong promoter and consultant on this legislation.

Yes, cheap mulch can be good mulch. But it is not usually bark mulch. Bark is chiefly a by-product of lumber milling. Wood chips are often sourced from land clearing.

We recommend that you use wood chips as a substitute for bark mulches only if in an area away from your house. Bark is used not only for its beauty, but because it is insect-resistant. You don’t want to be feeding termites and carpenter ants.

Wood chips will pretty quickly weather to a silver colored mulch. OK, to be honest it is really a gray mulch. (It’s in the eye of the beholder.) Whole tree chips will generally suffice, even if used to suppress weed and brush growth along a road. This is useful in more rural neighborhoods, or along the tree line at the back or sides of a yard.

In the Brockton and Plymouth Massachusetts area we have seen many good examples of the use of chipped or ground wood, even clean mill chips (no bark or twigs) for the fussier customers in the “better” homes. The latter are mill sourced though and will cost almost as much as the cheaper bark mulch.

Bridgewater Farm Supply offers both retail and wholesale delivery and has whatever you need.

Ah, ’tis spring and the gardens and lawns are coming to life again. Large trucks are coming daily to get our loam and compost mix to haul off to places that need it to add to sandy soil in the many Cape Cod and Southeast Mass. towns. We are proud of our soil because we know it has a wide mix of organic sources that add humus. And that, not just “dirt”, is what makes for good plant growth.

For building a lawn or for garden soil starting with a high organic content in soil provides better aeration, good, natural nutrients and better fertilization hold. At some garden stores or national chain stores (or at guys who just sell “dirt cheap” from a pile by the side of the road) when you buy loam you are buying a nearly dead soil product. It was scraped off some used dirt patch and piled up. It’s old, tired and not ready to grow seedlings with any sort of vigor. Some of us older folks know that feeling well 🙂

Small girl picks dandelions.

Tired of weeds? We sell weed killers and mulch, but not this weed killer

It’s the peak time for mulching. We see it every year. Folks want the place looking great for Memorial Day. The earlybirds have been out on cold days to clean up, mulch the beds, lime and “Step 1” fertilize the lawn. They’ve already mowed a bunch of times. Most of us, though, are procrastinators. We mean well, but it takes some good weather when we can’t resist being outdoors, or the pressure of the long holiday weekend with its approaching visitors (and perhaps a nagging spouse?)  to get us out raking, fertilizing, and spreading mulch. Besides, the Celtics and the Bruins were in the playoffs, and the Sox are playing every day now.

All right, so maybe you picked up some fallen branches between sports periods and maybe even raked.  But… soon the weather will turn hot and steamy, making weed control tasks much more unpleasant.  Get out there now! (or get your spouse out there.  Apply Step 2 Weed and Feed and rake that mulch and add some more where needed.  Seems every time I do that the Red Sox go on a streak. No, really. Don’t wait ’til the All Star break. It’s too hot then.

Call us now at 508-697-0357 or buy some mulch online. You’ll be glad you did.

Bridgewater Farm Supply is in Bridgewater, MA, proudly part of Red Sox nation.

Why use straw mulch?

Photo by Sebastian Kasten (Own work) [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

Don’t mess with my straw bale!

Straw  provides a lightweight airy mulch,  which lets rain through, smothers weeds, and adds organic matter to the soil, improving its structure. It is a cheap mulch compared to many commercial mulches.  Hay mulch is cheaper but straw is the proper choice because it has few if any seeds.  Straw also doesn’t use up as much nitrogen in the soil as some wood-based mulches such as wood chips. Straw also works well on steep slopes where erosion might be a problem. You can “crimp it in” to the soil using a shovel.

Straw, with its light color, reflects light to your plants and helps to keep heat from the soil, keeping soil temperature steady… while of course doing the main job of a mulch–conserving moisture.

Straw just “feels good” in a garden. It generally stays clean-looking during the season and feels good under foot. Also — is there a better “natural” garden seat than a straw bale?

Problems using straw mulch

Many people find that various tunneling garden pests like moles, shrews, and voles love a good straw mulch, too.  Some of these critters are vegetarians and may enjoy feasting on your tulip bulbs or other off-limit foods.

Using straw mulch

Best practice involves applying a new layer of straw mulch in the summer for heat protection and moisture retention. Use gloves and pull 3-inch-thick sections off the bale, fluff them up and apply them. Keep the mulch layer “fluffy” for best results. Many people find a thin layer of newspaper added underneath works well.

In the spring the straw will have begun to decompose and can be pulled back to allow the soil to warm. When the soil becomes workable you can work any soft, rotted straw into the soil along with fertilizer.

If bought in the fall (maybe as part of your autumn decoration) it can be applied and left after on vacant beds or where rodent damage is not a threat.  Otherwise let the straw bales begin to rot and they will be fine to apply in late spring.

Hey, if you’re in Massachusetts, come visit us!

We were taking a local mulch order the other day when the customer noted that she had been buying mulch every year for more than 10 years.  “The price of mulch has gone up so fast the past few years”, she noted.

Don’t we know it. And it just doesn’t seem right when economic conditions have been the worst in 70 years, with high unemployment, smaller consumer budgets–and lower demand for mulch and other landscaping materials.

It was more than higher grinding and transportation costs due to rising fuel prices. Although mulch raw material cost is always affected by higher fuel cost in raw material trucking and processing  (as is delivery to homeowners and middlemen), there was more to it this time. We were no longer riding the wave of higher home prices and home building.

Bark mulches are chiefly made from bark slabs trimmed from logs by mills as a by-product of  lumber production. As the construction industry slowed and the house builders were truly clobbered, mills sharply curtailed production. The result was less bark supply and lumber mills that were eager to raise pricing to make up for reduced lumber sales. Even land clearing operations diminished resulting in fewer wood chips on the market.

All this reduction in wood by-products ocurred just as wood pellet manufacturers, driven by a jump in those installing wood pellet stoves, took huge amounts of wood off the market.

Wood shavings and sawdust

Prices on farm supply products were even more affected by this.  Sawdust and wood shavings bedding for horses or in dairies is more of a necessity than mulch.  Here, too, there was less demand as folks “went a little longer” or maybe substituted hay or straw. But in this market there was a true shortage of wood shavings in the northeast US.  At one point we saw potential new customers for bulk shavings scrambling to find supply, but we were having to ration supply to our own best customers. We scrambled to find new suppliers, too, reaching further up into Canada.  We even set up one of our grinders to produce a new bedding product for us: “wood grindings”.  Sure, it was not ideal, but it was cheaper and usable.  Desperate times, desperate measures.

Two men with beards and hats stand in front of a bark hut.

Folks have made bark slab houses. We like grinding bark to mulch.

Thankfully that crunch seems to be behind us for now, but some pricing pressures remains.

Bridgewater Farm Supply is located in Bridgewater, Massachusetts.

Bridgewater Farm Supply has the best mulch prices per cubic yard in Southeast Massachusetts, including Plymouth County and Bristol County.  As the area’s largest mulch supplier, we are able to pass on discounts on mulch per cubic yard to contractors and homeowners.  Even though we sell quality cheap mulch all year long, we offer some additional discounts on mulch delivery  early in the season.

Buy Mulch Online

This April 2011 we began a new store at http://www.bridgewaterfarm.com accepting C.O.D. and credit card orders for mulch online. The new site has been well received by Brockton area mulch customers and has fit in well with our existing local mulch delivery system. Other landscaping materials sold on bridgewaterfarm.biz include wood chips, topsoil, compost and mulch hay.

Mulch Delivery Area

Our delivery area includes Bridgewater, Abington,  Acushnet,  Assonet,   Attleboro,   Avon,   Barnstable,  Bellingham,   Berkley,   Billerica,  Boston, Bourne, Braintree,  Brockton,  Canton,  Carver,  Chatham,  Dartmouth,  Dedham,   Dighton, Duxbury,  East Bridgewater,  Easton, Everett,   Foxboro,  Freetown,  Halifax,  Hanover, Hanson,  Harwich,  Hingham, Holbrook,  Hull, Kingston,  Lakeville,  Mansfield,   Marion,   Marshfield,  Mashpee,  Medford,   Middleboro, Milton,  New Bedford,  Newton,   Norfolk,  Norton,  Norwell,   Norwood,   Pembroke, Plainville,   Plymouth,  Plympton,  Quincy, Randolph,   Raynham,  Rehoboth, Rochester,  Rockland,  Sandwich,   Scituate ,  Seekonk,  Sharon,  Sherborn,    Somerset,   Stoughton,  Sutton, Taunton, Walpole,   Wareham,   and West Bridgewater. To keep our low mulch prices we have to charge more the longer the trucking distance.

Come visit us online now!