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[Fwd: Wool mulch]

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Hi Saneters,

There was some talk a while back about the use of wool as mulch. Here 
at Mustang Creek Homestead we divided our raspberry patch into three 
test plots last spring.

1) Wool mulched (tag sheep wool and angora)
2) Straw mulched
3) Hand weeded

Last week (we are in southeastern Minnesota, cold spring, we are three 
weeks behind normal spring conditions) I pulled off the wool (it just 
rolled off in nice thick clumps) and straw mulch (straw seems to 
attract ground bees, the wool didn't) to monitor the beds.

The wool mulch worked best by far! The ground around the raspberries 
is bare of weeds and grass, the raspberries (Heritage) themselves are 
stronger and leafing out better than the other two, and the new shoots 
are more numerous and better developed than with the straw mulch or 
the hand weeded areas. I'm sold on wool mulch (I hate hand weeding).

For what it is worth, I found that the wool stayed in place very well. 
Once wet it just stays there. Only one or two tufts drifted out of 
place. It is reuseable this year.

Potential other uses for tag or unsaleable wool may include: 
1) To mulch out problem weeds (like poison ivy, burdock, etc.)
2) Hanging plant basket liners
3) Bedding for small animals (ferrets, rabbits, hamsters, etc.)
4) Chicken nest lining
5) Mulching around anything perennial
6) Mulching wire fence and posts

I'm not sure, but the wool may also have a moisture holding factor. 
That may be why the berries mulched in it did better (the spot where I 
have them is sunny and dry).

I may try adding fertilizer value to the wool this year by putting it 
under the chickens and/or the rabbits to absorb those nutrients before 
using it for mulch.

My sheep are Romonov cross. They have hair in the wool which makes it 
unsaleable to the wool market. Some of them have been colored also, 
which makes it unsaleable as well.

I believe there could be a decent market for colored wool especially 
(it does not visually distract the eye like white wool when used as 
mulch or in a hanging basket). The pet market could also be tapped. My 
son's ferrets love the wool (we have temps. that range from -60 to 
100+), it keeps them warm in winter and cool in the summer. They shape 
it to suit themselves. The nice thing is that you don't have to do 
anything to it. Just take it and use it as it comes freshly shorn, or 
several years old after being stuffed in a bag.

Hope this helps someone.

Bev Sandlin
Mustang Creek Homestead
Rollingstone, MN

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