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I use the free stuff!
At our local garbage dump and recycle center, in a separate section, the staff also mulch and compost wood (trees, branches, ground, and yard waste) and compost it in huge heaps. It is free to go and get a truckload of it, and they will even use their big scoop to load you up. Once you return home with it, spreading is pretty labor-intensive, but if you shovel or bucket it out and wheel-barrow it straight to where you need it, it's not too bad. It is composted, dark colored, and has a natural look to it. The mulch works great and it's free. There is plenty left over to mulch between the rows as well.
I also crumble up dried egg shells and spread them in a 3-inch wide ring around the tomato plant (on top of the mulch) to help deter worms, slugs, and caterpillars -- they don't like to slither through egg shells! Egg shells also improve the calcium content of the soil, eventually, as they break down.
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By Kathy Widenhouse, award-winning writer and owner of Tomato Dirt, a leading online source for growing tomatoes and using them.
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