How to Make Mulch: 12 Plants to Grow for Chop and Drop Mulch 3

Mulching is one of the best things you can do for a garden. Here’s how to make mulch right on site by growing plants that are — essentially — instant mulch.

Even small garden plots can benefit from embracing permaculture methods like a chop and drop method of mulching.

Getting started with chop and drop

One of the kind of “aha” ideas I’ve learned from delving into the idea of permaculture is that of starting with non-productive crops.

In other words, instead of planting fruiting trees and plants right off the bat, it makes sense to plant fast-growing plants and trees that can be used as “chop and drop” mulch to help build the soil first.

The idea of composting and mulching is not new to me, but I tend to be a bit impatient. I want to grow food now. As the video below shows, there are just some situations that require patience.

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There are many good reasons to plant buckwheat in your garden. Here are nine of 'em.

How to make mulch – grow it!

The most important feature of crops used for chop and drop mulch is that they grow quickly. They generate a lot of potential green waste that can be clipped or pruned regularly to add mulch to the soil surface.

In using this method, you’re essentially replicating what Mother Nature does in a lush forest. As leaves and branches drop in a forest, they break down and create a thick, spongy layer of compost.

By mimicking this system in your space, you are essentially producing your own mulch and compost right on site, rather than needing to bring it in from elsewhere.

Some people will balk at the untidy nature of gardening like this, but it’s worth it. A thick layer of mulch helps to retain moisture while it breaks down, adding nutrients to the soil. A heavy layer of mulch keeps weeds down, too.

So, what plants make good green waste for mulching?

It will depend on where you live, of course. My go-to mulch plants here are comfrey (above), ginger, yacon, and banana stumps simply because they’re plentiful. But there are other options to consider.

12+ plants to grow for chopping and dropping

While I mention these as fast growing mulch crops, just about any plant you prune will be beneficial. Just let the waste drop in place rather than hauling it off.

There’s more information on the chop and drop method here. And a lot more information on permaculture farming here.

Permaculture and greening the desert

Using permaculture methods Geoff Lawton and his team created a green oasis in the middle of a Jordan desert. The video below is just two minutes long, but it shows the possibilities of creating permaculture food forests even in severe drought conditions. [Be sure to read my post about gardening in drought conditions, too.]

Before & After Scans after 5 years.

Taken from one of the high points of the Al Baydha Project’s demonstration site, this shows the growth of the project’s agroforestry system. Two years were spent on constructing earthworks up in the …

Here he is talking about the details of the project. And be sure to check out Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture for more detailed information.

Permaculture Behind Greening the Desert with Geoff Lawton


Mulching is one of the best things you can do for a vegetable garden. Here's how to generate free mulch right on site by growing your own! #vegetablegarden #gardening #homestead

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3 thoughts on “How to Make Mulch: 12 Plants to Grow for Chop and Drop Mulch

  • Melissa

    Wonderful peek into work I didn’t know was being done!  Thank you for the introduction and the inspiration! Off to learn more!

  • Kim

    I love stories like this. Sensational work!

    Keep up the wonderful work!

  • Richard Sankar

    A rather nice way letting nature work for us