A few years ago, I used to organise a (non profit making) bulk delivery of COCOA SHELL MULCH for the benefit of all interested gardeners at Birchwood Park within our Company (Amec Foster Wheeler). I am now looking to spread the net wider, to anyone who works at Birchwood Park (or knows someone who does).
COCOA SHELL MULCH is the shells from cocoa beans. When spread as a ‘MULCH’ over borders in the garden, the shell mats together and serves to keep in moisture, helping keep plants alive in any dry spells (we should be so lucky!!). However, any MULCH’s main advantage is in WEED CONTROL, by preventing airborne seeds settling into the soil and germinating. Although MULCH cannot stop Perennial Weeds (since these simply grow up through it), it does make them very “leggy” and easy to spot and therefore remove early. When the cocoa shell eventually rots down, then it also feeds and conditions the soil, and is considered to be a good fertiliser (see http://www.organicauthority.com/organic-gardening/7-reasons-your-garden-will-love-cocoa-mulch.html).
However, care needs to be taken, as it is toxic to dogs, but generally only if consumed in large quantities (see http://aspcapro.org/sites/pro/files/cocoa-mulch.pdf).
Although it is more expensive than tree bark mulch, cocoa shell is generally reckoned to be worth the extra, ***PLUS*** you get the added benefit of the chocolatey smell for a week or so when you first put it down!!!
A friend of mine has a large trailer, and we are looking at buying direct from the company and using his trailer to haul the pallets back to Warrington (they are in Yorkshire – Tommy Topsoil – see http://www.tommytopsoil.com/products/mulches/cocoa-shell-mulch). Doing this, we think that, after allowing for fuel costs, the net cost to us all would be £7.50 to £8.00 per bag (the eventual price will depend on how many bags are ordered in total (the more bags, the thinner the fuel costs will get spread). Tommy Topsoil usually charge £10.00 per bag delivered, or £8.50 when collecting it yourself. We will have to order in full pallets (multiples of 40 bags at 80 litres per bag). Each 80 litre bag will cover just over one and a half square metres at the recommended 5 cm thick (around four linear metres for an ‘average’ width 40 cm border).
If anyone thinks that they would like one or two or even twenty bags, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please use email, as this will allow me to get back in touch with everyone. If there seem to be enough people interested, we’ll see how many pallets we can buy, and try to get a more definitive idea of what the final price per bag is likely to work out at.