Mulch Ado About Nothing

Note to self (and apparently all of you since I am posting this here), when they say “organic” mulch, they do not mean that it was made from chemical-free trees.   When the lady on the phone said “Do you want the organic mulch?  It is excellent stuff.” I should have asked what organic meant. I assumed and you know what that stands for.  Your neighbors get pissy because your yard smells like a cow’s ass.

I should have suspected that something was up when it was the cheapest mulch on the list.   Delivery to your home, ½ price even. Well, duh. The landscaping company wanted to get rid of it as much as my neighbors do.

I know cow manure is good for your garden, but I could have sworn composted manure did not stink.   So why does mulch with cow manure stink?  These are the mysteries I am pondering this week. That and who will replace Simon Cowell. We all know that is urgent to the functioning of the universe.

Second note to self — Do not have organic mulch delivered to your house the day before Memorial Day weekend. While organic mulch may do wonders for your flower beds and you will have 3 whole days to work on spreading it out, it does not greatly improve the taste of hamburgers and hotdogs.   The smell apparently has quite the opposite effect.

6 thoughts on “Mulch Ado About Nothing
  1. What no cow poop while chowing down ;)I don’t mind the smell of the stuff because I know its the smell of gorgeous healthy blooms to come. However I’m sure my neighbor’s don’t feel the same when I get a big load dumped. Good long weekend project though.
    .-= Laura´s last blog ..Holes. No, not the ones my husband digs! =-.


  2. c. on

    Organic is a relative term which comes with it’s very own overburdened yet richly paying bandwagon. The word intones purity, good for you, non-toxic. Cow herds receive massive doses of antibiotics and hormones because of closer living conditions and better milk production, of which traces of these drugs are found in “organic” mulch. If someone has enough of a large steady supply to actually be able to sell the manure, it follows that they have a herd, meaning–their cattle more often than not receive antibiotics and hormones to stay healthy and become profitable. Basically, know thy cows, know their poop.

    The word should be “origins” instead of “organic”. Try using green manures instead such as fenugreek, poached egg plant, clovers. The scent is always nice, they provide a cover crop/mulch, and you never have to worry about what drugs they’ve been taking, especially if you save your own seed. Harder work than dialing a phone, yes. If smells or ingesting chemicals concern you, which is harder?


    Matt from CT Reply:

    >Cow herds receive massive doses of antibiotics and
    >hormones because of closer living conditions and better
    >milk production, of which traces of these drugs are found
    >in “organic” mulch.

    It is true that antibiotics and rBST (the articial bovine growth hormone) can be accumulate in manure.

    However, the primary reason cows are routinely given antibiotics is not “closer living conditions.” It is because most are fed diets too intensive in grain for their system to digest naturally. Essentially the grain is too nutrient dense and the bacteria go into overdrive processing it. To keep the nutritional density but reduce the rate it’s fermented back to a reasonable level sub-therapeutic levels of antibiotics are given which kill some but not all of the normal gut bacteria in the animals’ rumen.

    Use of rBST has declined, thankfully. This is both the impact of consumer demand / marketing decisions, as well as farmers who themselves were hurt a few years back when the a major pharmaceutical plant that made much (if not all?) of the world’s supply shut down it’s production for an extended time due to contamination. Cows who where being given rBST “crashed” when supplies ran out…their milk production dropped below what comparable cows never given rBST produced.

    Antibiotics are used prophylacticly in other animals, most notable poultry, to control diseases. One of the last vestiges of the poultry industry in my hometown is an R&D facility that is breeding natural resistance back into chickens; their predecessor company had helped breed it out on the theory that antibiotics could take care of disease so natural resistance wasn’t a trait to worry about. But dairy cattle do not use antibiotics in this manner.


  3. Any bulk mulch, when freshly dumped, has a not-so-pleasent odor, I’m afraid. Probably those with cow manure even more than most. Annoying, but unavoidable. Next time have it delivered a few days ahead of the weekend so it has time to dissipate somewhat.


    Jim B Reply:

    Yes, it stinks but so do babies and puppies. I happen to enjoy some stink in my life. The neighbors can go suck an egg.


  4. My experience over the past 30 years, was that back in the early 80’s, mulch was primarily Pine Bard shredded from stripping bark from trees destined to become lumber. Usually it had strips of sappy bark peelings from younger trees or high branch growth of mature trees. Later, Pine bark became a commodity for a fuel resource and Hemlock and processed mulch, usually from chipped wood and old pallets the was dyed red in color to give the appearance of Hemlock mulch.Now, years later, and new process is becoming common place and considered organic mulch in that it is aged and well rotted from hemlock and a Spruce source and is considered a premium mulch in comparison to the shredded wood fiber that is dyed,well rotted mulch is very high in organic matter, hence, Organic mulch…Ask when making a purchase and don’t be fooled. Go to the garden center and ask to see a sample… Your best and secure bet.


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