Are you a wine cork hoarder like I am? Hereís how to make mulch using your stash of wine corks and which sort works best.
Before I walk you through how to make mulch, itís important that you choose the right kind of wine cork for this project. There are a couple of sorts of wine cork, and only one of them works for this project. You want to make certain that the corks youíre using are natural cork.
Some winemakers have switched to synthetic (plastic) corks, and those donít work as well for mulch. Thatís because plastic doesnít break down. You also donít want plastic mulch on your food plants, because chemicals from the plastic can leach into the plants. Hereís a labeled photo of some corks from my stash:
As you can see, some synthetic corks can look a lot like natural ones, but donít worry! You can tell by feel. Natural cork has a rough surface, but synthetic feels smooth to the touch. The feel it method is definitely the best way to suss out the synthetic vs. natural corks in your wine stash.
One more caveat about making cork mulch: My husband tells me that cork mulch is something heís seen recommended as a way to kill rats. The tutorial he read said to cut up cork and dip the pieces in grease. It also advised you not to do it if there were any other animals around because theyíd eat it and die. If your fur kids like to eat mulch, this make sure youíre only using it in pots that they canít reach.
Now that you know how to find the right corks and how to use your cork mulch safely, letís make some!
How to Make Mulch from Wine Corks
The directions below have two options for making your mulch. One is manual and the other uses a high speed blender. My Vitamix worked great for this project, but youíre definitely putting corks into your blender at your own risk! If youíre nervous about messing up your blender, stick with the manual technique.
- wine corks Ė The more the merrier! It took about 50 corks to make enough mulch for one 18″ potted plant, but I did a deep layer of mulch. You could probably stretch that amount of mulch to cover up to a 24″ pot.
- serrated knife and cutting board (for the manual method)
- high speed blender (for the blender method)
- plant that needs mulch
Sort your corks. See the info above on how to spot those natural corks. You want all natural wine corks to make your mulch. Save those synthetic corks for another project. Miniature pirate ships, perhaps?
How to Make Mulch: Manual Instructions:
1. Get cutting! Chop those corks up, yíall! You want to cut your corks up into about 1/4″ pieces. Thatís a good size to let water filter down but not let too much evaporate off. The point of mulch is to help those plants retain precious water.
2. Keep cutting. I know, it takes a long time. Put on your favorite podcast, and chop, chop, chop.
3. Mulch those plants! Thatís it. Once youíve chopped up the mulch amount that you need, spread it in a layer over your plant.
How to Make Mulch: High Speed Blender Instructions
1. Put your corks into your blender with the lid on. Youíre going to blend about 12 corks at once. More than that, and youíll end up with a superfine cork sand at the bottom and lots of whole corks at the top. Donít use that tamping-down tool, because cork is going to fly all over your kitchen if you do that. I can tell you how I figured that out while I wipe the cork dust off of the walls.
2. Start your blender on the lowest variable speed, then quickly turn it up to the highest. Switch to high speed, and blend for 10-15 seconds.
3. Dump your blended cork into a bowl, fish out any big pieces, and repeat until everything it blended.
4. Mulch those plants! Thatís it. Once youíve blended up the mulch amount that you need, spread it in a layer over your plant.
Image Credits: All photos by Becky Striepe